The earliest records of the cultivation for the many uses of the coconut palm date back to nearly 3000 years. Botanists say the coconut was domesticated as early as the Neolithic, Stone Age times. As early as the 12th century explorers such as Marco Polo report seeing ships from Sri Lanka using coco fiber ropes in their rigging. Other reports were of ships using the fiber as caulking for sealing the space between planks and even having sails made from woven coco fibers. It is likely that Sri Lanka and India were the first countries to discover and export the many products manufactured using coco fiber.
Removing the fibers from the coconut first requires a process called Retting, which softens the fibers by means of soaking the coconuts in water for a period of time. This process can take anywhere from 6-10 months. Later people developed a way of speeding up this process with chemicals and a process of crushing the coconuts with large rollers. Further still there are a series of mechanical methods of removing the valuable fibers from the coconut through use of a variety of complex machinery.
Once the Fibers are broken down to varying lengths those fibers are spun using a variety of machines. This process in india is done exclusively in coastal villages as a household cottage industry. This can be completed by hand (very rare today) but is commonly done using a spinning machine called a Ratt. There are also motorised ratts and automatic spinning machine. Dependent on what type of machine a household has the more money that household can make by buying the raw fibres and selling the finished yarn product to manufacturers.
Many different types weaves of yarn are available, some can only be achieved through hand spinning and others require specialized machines to achieve. Most specialized weaves have specialized applications and different prices dependant on the time or equipment needed to create that weave.
Once the manufacturer has the woven cord product this is when they can move towards creating their end product.
In the next and final part we will conclude this article – Coming Soon:
Part 3: Types of Coco Mats and the Manufacturing Process