Pineapples, Ferns and Healing From the Forest:

It Was Loud

The first night we arrived in Eheng Village on the island of Borneo (Kalimantan), we were thrilled to finally be in the forest where so many of these products, including rattan, grow.  Once introduced to our Dayak hosts and the village mayor, we were told that a healing ceremony, known as a Belian was underway. This was the last of a four night ritual that included, drumming, dancing and rituals performed by three Shaman.  We could hear the drumming in the background of all our conversations, and I found myself drifting off, wondering what was going on beyond the last light of dusk in the longhouse. 

  

When we were invited into the longhouse, it was completely dark in the village street.  Here’s what we saw.

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I can’t wait to tell you more about life in Eheng Village and what we experienced there.  As guests we were treated warmly and generously given a view of the beautiful Dayak culture. Not only are many of the plants we learned about used in ceremony, but also have practical applications for everyday life.

Ketak


Fertile fronds with immature sporangia in foreground and mature in the background,  Photograph by: Tjut Jul Fatisa Bangun

Lygodium Circinnatum also known as Resam or Ketak is a tropical fern most typically found on the Indonesian Islands of Lombok and Bali, however its range includes all of Asia, India and Australia. Once harvested and processed, the leaf stem or rachis is used to create beautiful woven products including handbags. Because it’s strong, durable and flexible this tropical wonder plant is perfect for creating handcrafted products.

Pineapple Fiber

Very strong and durable, pineapple leaves are multipurpose natural material that can be made into many products including a leather like textile called Pinatex. This new material was developed when its creator Carmen Hijosa was searching for a leather alternative while in the Philippines. Taken from pineapple leaves, the delicate fibers are extracted by farmers and then put through a process resulting in a non-woven mesh, much like the creation of felt.

The origins of this leather substitute came from the tropics where Carmen was introduced to the refined traditional textiles used for Barong Tagalog which is an embroidered formal shirt and considered the national dress of the Philippines. 

The traditional textile is surprisingly durable, in-spite of its delicate appearance.

Up next Bark Cloth and Sea Grass.