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for other applications. It is thus essential to look for new plants that enable easy and cost- effective extraction processes that do not impair the properties of fibres. The new fibres thus identified must be analyzed in order to determine their physical, chemical, and mechanical properties. This knowledge is essential to evaluate or simulate efficiently the properties of fibres.

Cyperus is one of the largest genera in Cyperaceae. It is cosmopolitan in distribution (Tejavathi et al. 1990; Simpson et al. 2003) with 650-700 species spread all over the world. Of these, eighty species occur in India. Although many species grow as agricultural weeds, the family has considerable economic importance and provides food, fodder, fuel, and medicines, together with construction, weaving, and perfumery materials (Simpson et al. 2003). Today, sedges are used throughout the tropics for basketry and mat weaving, and they are cultivated for such purposes in parts of Africa and Asia. Sedges are also extensively used for thatching, fencing, rope making, and pot pouri. Floor mats and wall hangings are generally made using sedge culms. More specifically C. articulatus, C. corymbosus, C. iria, C. malacensis, and C. pangorei are the major resources of mat sedges (Krishnamurthy 1993; Venkatesan 2005; Ravichandran et al. 2005). Of these, C. pangorei, previously known as C. tegetum Roxb., C. dehiscens Nees, Papyrus pangorei Rottb., and Papyrus dehiscens Nees, is exclusively used for making the world-famous superfine and silk mats of Pathamadai. Cyperus pangorei Rottb. is distributed all over India, Ceylon, Nepal, and Burma (Dassanayake and Fosberg 1985; Mathew 1991; Mabberley 2005). It is both pantropical and temperate in distribution (Haines and Lye 1983; Tucker 1983). In India, C. pangorei is used for making mats in West Bengal (Calcutta), Kerala (Killimangalam and Palghat), Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. In Tamil Nadu, sedge mats are made at various districts such as Vandavasi, Karur, Thanjavur, and villages such as Pathamadai, Veeravanallur, Kayathar, and Alwarkurichi of Tirunelveli district. The culms of C. pangorei provide raw material for mat making. Its highly stable nature and the peculiar arrangement of fibrovascular bundles in the culm are of great advantage, contributing to the productivity of mat industries (Ravichandran et al. 2005). Mats produced at Pathamadai may be broadly divided into three categories; coarse, fine, and super fine (silkmat). Coarse mats (50 counts per culm split into 2 to 4 strands) that are rough in texture are relatively faster to weave and are made using either a handloom or power loom. Fine mats (80-100 counts- culm split into 8-20 strands) are higher quality handloom mats and are finer in texture. The highest quality silk or super fine mats (120 to 140 counts per culm split into 20 to 40 strands) have a texture akin to silk. C. pangorei is also used to produce other coarse products such as hand bags, baskets, table mats, window curtains, wall hangings and fans (Benazir 2000).

However, until recently, C. pangorei as a fibre plant has remained barely studied. Nevertheless, interest in this crop seems to be increasing worldwide for its importance in the making of Pathamadai Silk Mats (Amalraj, 1990; Benazir, 2010; Govind, 2004; Balaji, 2005; Venkatesan, 2005; Basu, 2005). The aim of this investigation is to evaluate the anatomy, fibre dimensions and derived values, chemical, and physico-mechanical properties of the fibre macerates and culm strands of this wonderful mat sedge so as to understand the strength and properties of its fibres.

Benazir et al. (2010). “Sedge fibers and strands,” BioResources 5(2), 951-967.


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