Banana textile production is a long and laborious process that involves several months of work before a single piece is completed. Woven on manually operated looms, banana fiber is low impact and a sustainable alternative to resource-intensive cotton and other petroleum-based fibers. The banana plant used is grown locally in the backyards of the weavers and farmers of Shinshe.
- Before a banana tree is cut down, a Kavalan ritual called Basbaw is performed to honor the Kavalan ancestors.
- Sheaths are stripped off the banana plant stem with a machete, and unwanted pith is scraped out.
- The fibers are dried in the sun for several days before being soaked in water to dissolve the starch. They are then dried a second time.
- Once dry, the fibers are cut into thin strips using a needle, dyed with local plants, and then knotted into yarn.
- Only when there are enough balls of yarn can the artisans start weaving. Weaving alone can take up to a month, depending on the complexity of the design.