DUMMALA - දුම්මල

Dummala is not a pure chemical compound. It is a mixture of oleo-terpenes, dried cellulose-lignin (dead wood). If dug out from the ground, it could contain peat-like carbonaceous organic matter.

There are many types of "dummala" or resins, gums etc., from natural sources used in Sri Lanka. One type is dug up from fields, and this is fossilized plant material. It is powdered and used to make flares in "Thovil exorcisms" and processions etc. It can also be ground into a fine powder, purified and used as a preserving varnish. This type of `dummala' is sometimes known as `bim-dummala'.

Dummala dissolved in oil is to preserve (protect) puskola (Palm leaf) writings, as it could be used as a varnish.

The word `dummala' itself is used used for dried resin-like gums from the tree: Dummala, or Shorea oblongifolia (Dipterocarpacea), endemic to Sri Lanka. The wood itself is resinous and when burnt, produces the `dummala smell' etc. The word `dummala' may have its origin in the `smokey fire' produced on burning the wood, or the powdered resin. The Sanskrit name `dhummala' is similar.

Damar resins are produced by various species of dipterocarps. A detailed study can be found in the work of Kostermans- A handbook of the Dip... in Sri Lanka

Dorana oil, from dorana tree (Dipterocarpus glandulosus) is well known This oil mixed with other organic substances was used to paint temple murals.

Resin from Kekuna (kaekuna) (Canarium zeylaicum) - the oleoresin is used as incense. When distilled kekuna oleoresin yields phyllandrin which is exported. The residue after distilling out the phylladrin is suitable for use as incense.

Dipterocarpus and Canarium species have been heavily cut down for timber in Sri Lanka. Of the dipterocarps, according to Dr. Bharathi, a conservator of Forests, one tree per hectare greater than 120 centimeters in diameter can be found in natural forests from which to extract damar resin.

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