Many useful fibers have been obtained from various parts of plants including leaves, stems (bast fibers), fruits and seeds.
Since all plant fibers are made up of mainly cellulose, they are categorized as “natural cellulosic fibers”, which may consist of one plant cell or an aggregate of cells cemented together by non-cellulose materials.
Bast fibers are produced and used to manufacture a wide range of traditional and novel products including ropes, nets, carpets, mats, brushes, mattresses, paper, and board materials.
Plant fibers are classified into two groups: soft fibers and hard fibers.
Soft Fibers: The process of preparing soft fibers for weaving is laborious. The plant is selected and harvested, partially dried, and then pounded with a stone mallet and scraped to clean the fibers. The material is then washed and dried in the sun. Later, the artists comb the fibers with their fingers.
The fibers are now ready to be spun or twisted into thread or cord on the artist’s leg. Some fibers, including palm, grass, wheat chaff, and to rote, are prepared by drying and pounding, after which they are cut to size and braided. Soft fibers are used to make ropes, string, nets, bags, and hammocks.
Hard Fibers: Hard fibers are subjected to successive phases of cutting, drying, cleaning, and soaking before they can be woven. These strong, naturally flexible fibers are used to make furniture, birdcages, toys, baskets, and mats.