This craft is predominantly found in the Kanyakumari district. Apart from banana, other natural fibers used for weaving include sisal, aloe, screw pine and pineapple.
A common practice is to use the fruit and leaves of banana, however, in several regions of India where this natural fiber is abundantly grown, mechanisms have been developed to extract the fiber out of the banana stem which is generally said to be discarded. Minimal wastage, additional income and livelihood opportunities are thus some of the benefits achieved.
The making process starts with extraction of the banana stem, drying and converting initially into individual strands and later into ropes of varying thickness. Some of the common raw materials and tools used – Banana fiber ropes, textured rubber mat, polyester rope and water in addition to auxiliary tools – scissors, measuring tape and steel wire.
The making of the rope is extremely crucial and requires drying, peeling, soaking in water for softening of the stem before 2 to 3 strands are combined together to make one single sturdy fiber, this stage is flexible depending on the thickness of the rope required as per the design of the product. The rope can then be knitted, crocheted or woven to make products from basketry, coasters, bags, mats to textiles. Banana fiber was also once used to make pattu saris, however, the same is rarely being done now.