Sumatra weave
Hand-woven Abaca Fiber Carpet
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Abaca Fiber

English Name   : Abaca

Binomial Name: Musa Textilis Nee

Place of Origins

Abaca is native to Mindanao and Luzon Island in the Philippines.

The fibers are exported from Port of Manila; hence, they are also known as Manila hemp.

Apart from the Philippines, the Dutch started planting abaca on a large scale in Sumatra in 1925. Ecuador and Guatemala also had a small plantation.

Nonetheless, to date, the Philippines is the largest abaca producer in the world.

Cultivation

Abaca plants thrive in tropics and subtropics regions where the average temperature is 27~29℃ and yearly rainfall is between 2500~2800 mm.

The plant is normally grown in well-drained loamy soil using rhizomes or seeds planted at the start of the rainy season.

In addition, new plants can be started by seeds or suckers.

The distance between each plant is usually 2-3 meter.

Description​

The abaca plant belongs to the banana family, Musaceae.

They share similar appearances and can bear fruits; however, the fruit of abaca plant is inedible.

The height of the plant is about 5 – 8 m.

The pseudostem can be harvested after growing for one and a half year to two years. Nevertheless, after 10 years, new rhizomes have to be planted.  

Application of Abaca

The fiber range in length from 1-3 . Abaca is prized for its length, great mechanical strength, flexibility, durability, and resistance to salt water damage, allowing its use in hawsers, ship’s lines, and fishing nets.

Harvesting

 

Harvesting abaca is labor intensive. 

  1. The outer part of abaca fiber stem is removed, leaving the center of the stem. It is then being sliced into long strips.

  2. The long strips are squeezed to remove water, mucilage, and impurities.

  3. After being dried naturally, the fibers are kept in room to rest for 7 days.

  4. Then, the fibers will be graded according to 6 different natural colours.

  5. The fibers will again be sorted according to the thickness in its colour group.

  6. Lastly, the fibers are woven into threads with different thickness and length.

Colour of the fiber

The fibers are lustrous, ranging from light beige, brown, red, purple to black in colour due to the species and location on the pseudostem.