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Back to the Source: Pineapples and Ferns

Back to the Source: Pineapples and Ferns

The first night we arrived in Eheng Village, Kalimantan on the island of Borneo, we were thrilled to finally be in the forest where so many of these products we'd been researching, including rattan, grow. As guests, we were treated warmly and were generously given particular insight into the beautiful Dayak culture.

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 where the belian was taking place, it was completely dark in the village street. If you would like to get a peek at the experience we saw, you can see it here.

I can’t wait to tell you more about life in Eheng Village and what we experienced there. Not only were many of the plants that we learned about used in ceremony, but also have practical applications for everyday life.


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.

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

Once harvested and processed, the leaf stems, or rachis, are 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 Fibre

Another sustainable material that we've been exploring is pinapple fibre. Very strong and durable, pineapple leaves are a 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 fibres 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,  an embroidered formal shirt considered the national dress of the Philippines. The traditional textile is surprisingly durable, despite its delicate appearance.

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