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MUSK (Med. Lat. muscus, late Gr. µbvX...

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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 90 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MUSK (Med. Lat. muscus, late Gr. µbvXos, possibly Pers. mushk, from Sansk. mushka, the scrotum), the name originally given to a perfume obtained from the strong-smelling substance secreted in a gland by the musk-deer (q.v.), and hence applied to other animals, and also to plants, possessing a similar odour. The variety which appears in commerce is a secretion of the musk-deer; but the odour is also emitted by the musk-ox and musk-rat of India and Europe, by the musk-duck (Biziura lobata) of West Australia, the musk-shrew, the musk-beetle (Calichroma moschata), the alligator of Central America, and by several other animals. In the vegetable kingdom it is present in the common musk (Mimulus moschatus), the musk-wood of the Guianas and West Indies (Guarea, spp.), and in the seeds of Hibiscus Abelmoschus (musk-seeds). To obtain the perfume from the musk-deer the animal is killed and the gland completely removed, and dried, either in the sun, on a hot stone, or by immersion in hot oil. It appears in commerce as " musk in pod," i.e. the glands are entire, or as " musk in grain," in which the perfume has been extracted from its receptacle. Three kinds are recognized! (I) Tong-king, Chinese or Tibetan, imported from China, the most valued; (2) Assam or Nepal, less valuable; and (3) Karbardin or Russian (Siberian), imported from Central Asia by way of Russia, the least valuable and hardly admitting of adulteration. The Tong-king musk is exported in small, gaudily decorated caddies with tin or lead linings, wherein the perfume is sealed down; it is now usually transmitted direct by parcel post to the merchant. Good musk is of a dark purplish colour, dry, smooth and unctuous to the touch, and bitter in taste. It dissolves in boiling water to the extent of about one-half; alcohol takes up one-third of the substance, and ether and chloroform dissolve still less. grain of musk will distinctly scent millions of cubic feet of air without any appreciable loss of weight, and its scent is not only more penetrating but more persistent than that of any other known substance. In addition to its odoriferous principle, it contains ammonia, cholesterin, fatty matter, a bitter resinous substance, and other animal principles. As a material in perfumery it is of the first importance, its powerful and enduring odour giving strength and permanency to the vegetable essences, so that it is an ingredient in many compounded perfumes. Artificial musk is a synthetic product, having a similar odour to natural musk. It was obtained by Baur in 1888 by condensing toluene with isobutyl bromide in the presence of aluminium chloride, and nitrating the product. It is a symtrinitro-+h-butyl toluene. Many similar preparations have been made, and it appears that the odour depends upon the symmetry of the three nitro groups. MUSK-DEER (Moschus moschiferus), an aberrant member of the deer family constituting the sub-family Cervidae Moschinae(see DEER). Both sexes are devoid of antler appendage; but in this the musk-deer agrees with one genus of true deer (Hydrelaphus), and as in the latter, the upper canine teeth of the males are long and sabre-like, projecting below the chin, with the ends turned somewhat backwards. In size the musk-deer is rather less than the European roe-deer, being about 20 in. high at the shoulder. Its limbs, especially the hinder pair, are long; and the feet remarkable for the great development of the lateral pair of hoofs and for the freedom of motion The Musk-deer (Moschus moschiferus). they all present, which must be of assistance to the animal in steadying it in its agile bounds among the crags of its native haunts. The ears are large, and the tail rudimentary. The hair covering the body is long, coarse, and of a peculiarly brittle and pith-like character, breaking easily; it is generally of a greyish-brown colour, sometimes inclined to yellowish-red, and often variegated with lighter patches. The musk-deer inhabits the forest districts in the Himalaya as far west as Gilgit, always, however, at great elevations—being rarely found in summer below 8000 ft. above the sea-level, and ranging as high as the limits of the thickets of birch, rhododendron and juniper, among which it mostly conceals itself in the day-time. The range extends into Tibet, Siberia and north-western China; but the musk-deer of Kansu has been separated as a distinct species, under the name of M. sifanicus. Musk-deer are hardy, solitary and retiring animals, chiefly nocturnal in habits, and almost always found alone, rarely in pairs and never in herds. They are exceedingly active and surefooted, having perhaps no equal in traversing rocks and precipitous ground; and they feed on moss, grass, and leaves of the plants which grow on the mountains. Most mammals have certain portions of the skin specially modified and provided with glands secreting odorous and fatty substances characteristic of the particular species. The special gland of the musk-deer, which has made the animal so well known, and has proved the cause of unremitting persecution to its possessor, is found in the male only, and is a sac about the size of a small orange, situated beneath the skin of the abdomen, the orifice being immediately in front of the preputial aperture. The secretion with which the sac is filled is dark brown or chocolate in colour, and when fresh of the consistence of " moist gingerbread," but becoming dry and granular after keeping (see Music). The Kansu (M. sifanicus) differs from the typical species in having longer ears, which are black on the outer surface.
End of Article: MUSK (Med. Lat. muscus, late Gr. µbvXos, possibly Pers. mushk, from Sansk. mushka, the scrotum)
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