“Dr. Grew, in his description of the curiosities in Gresham College (seventeenth century), believes the art, as well as the use of such linen, altogether lost, but it appears that it was not quite so, for we find the Museum Septalius boasting of the possession of thread, ropes, paper, and net-work done of this material as late as 1726;
some of these articles made, moreover, by the own hand of Septalius, as we learn in Greenhill’s Art of Embalming, p. 361. “Grew”, says the author, “seems to make Asbestinus Lapis and Amianthus all one, and calls them in English the thrum-stone”; he says it grows in short threads or thrums, from about a quarter of an inch to an inch in length, parallel and glossy, as fine as those small, single threads the silk-worms spin, and very flexible like to flax or tow.
That the secret is not altogether lost is proved by the fact that some Buddhist convents in China and Thibet are in possession of it. Whether made of the fibre of one or the other of such stones, we cannot say, but we have seen in a monastery of female Talapoins, a yellow gown, such as the Buddhist monks wear, thrown into a large pit, full of glowing coals, and taken out two hours afterward as clear as if it had been washed with soap and water.
Similar severe trials of asbestos having occurred in Europe and America in our own times, the substance is being applied to various industrial purposes, such as roofing-cloth, incombustible dresses and fireproof safes.
A very valuable deposit on Staten Island, in New York harbor, yields the mineral in bundles, like dry wood, with fibres of several feet in length. The finer variety of asbestos, called αμιαντος (undefiled) by the ancients, took its name from its white, satin-like lustre.”
H. P. Blavatsky