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Abaca fibre or Manila Hemp, Musa textilis

Natural Fibres: Abaca - from 2009 International Year of Natural Fibres

Abaca - from The Fiber Industry Development Authority of the Philippines

Rope-making fibres - manila hemp and sisal - from Kew Gardens, UK

The Wild Tribes of Davao District, Mindanao - a Project Gutenberg eBook, describes how village people extracted the fibre, published in 1913

This is an extract from the book
Hemp[20] grows wild in the Davao District and the Bagobo have, for generations, used it in the manufacture of their clothing. In recent years the demand for fiber has shown the people an easy way to secure the trade articles which they desire and, as a result, rather extensive plantings are found even in the more remote districts. The women strip a large part of the fiber in local use, but all that prepared for trade is produced by the men. When the ever-present cogon grass begins to invade a clearing, the young hemp is planted. In about eighteen months it has grown to a height of some sixteen feet and is ready to be cut.
The man goes to the fields, cuts down some stalks and, having removed the leaves, splits off the outer fiber layers from the cellular matter of the interior, using a bone knife for this purpose. When he has accumulated a sufficient number of strips he carries them to the hemp machine (Fig. 27). This consists of a knife which rests on a wooden block. The handle turns on a pivot and the end is drawn upwards by means of a bent twig, or sapling, which acts as a spring. This spring is lowered and the knife blade raised by means of a foot treadle; a strip of hemp is laid on the block; the foot pressure is removed, and the knife descends. Taking a firm hold of one end of the strip, the operator draws it toward him under the blade, thus removing the pulp and leaving the free hemp threads. These are hung in the sun until dry, when they are tied in bundles ready to be carried to the coast. The work is hard and, unless necessity forces him to greater effort, a man seldom engages in it for more than three or four days in a month. He thinks his duty ceases with this expenditure of energy and, unless he is fortunate enough to possess animals or slaves, is quite content to allow his wife, or wives, to carry the product to the coast trader.
Print a copy of the diagram and add labels to it.
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