Monday, July 14, 2008


Bureau of Education

The Philippine Crafstman
August 1912

THE name "hemp" as applied to the fiber of Musa textilis is a misnomer. The chief cordage fiber of the world was formerly that obtained from the hemp plant Cannabis sativa which grows in Europe, the United States, and other temperate regions. Many other fibers have from time to time taken the place of hemp in rope making and have in a general way also been classed as "hemp." Often they have the name of their place of origin prefixed in order to distinguish them from other similar fibers. Such are Mauritius hemp, New Zealand hemp, Sisal hemp, and Manila hemp. The term "hemp" as applied to abaca fiber is not only a misnomer but it is an unfortunate one as far as the foreign viewpoint of our industrial articles is concerned. To those persons to whom the word "hemp" may convey some meaning it brings to mind a coarse gray material of no particular beauty, the chief quality of which is its strength. It will therefore be unfortunate if, in the markets of the world, the beautiful abaca hand bags, the delicate slippers, the fine laces, and such articles made from the fiber of Musa textilis are to be advertised and sold under the name "hemp" or "Manila hemp." There is much in a trade name. The word "hemp" has a definite meaning in the world at large and conjures up no impression of beauty and delicacy. The word "abaca" is not known in foreign markets but it is an unusual and catchy word, one for which many a manufacturer would pay a considerable sum. The title of this article has therefore been limited to "abaca" with the hope that the word will be employed by all when referring to articles made from fiber of Musa textilis.

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