Ainu people (indigenous to Japan) use long wood shavings as a material to weave or braid into headpieces. The movie Ainu Mosir includes a scene that demonstrates the process of shaving down a green stave with a sharp knife. The stave was about .5 meter long and the shavings stayed full length. When they were later braided/woven, they made a strong material.

What properties would make a wood suitable for this task? Does anyone know what wood the Ainu use? I know they use elm to make clothes, so this could be elm as well. I am also looking for any potential temperate alternatives.

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  • 1
    Welcome to WSE. A photo or sketch of a headpiece may help posters offer better answers.
    – Ashlar
    Apr 26 '21 at 20:41
  • "What properties would make a wood suitable for this task?" The main property here is they start with green wood, which is extremely easy to plane into long, unbroken shavings compared to dried/seasoned wood. So, do you have or could you secure a source of green wood? Even if they do use elm as you posit, expect your local species (whether you're in NA or Europe) to differ somewhat to significanty, in the same way that European sycamore is no match for American maple.
    – Graphus
    Apr 27 '21 at 7:46
  • "I know they use elm to make clothes" I could go look this up but isn't that from the layer under the bark? Obviously this does suggest there's a good chance they're using multiple parts of the same tree as an efficient way of using a natural resource, but it's just as possible they use another species for the shavings and use the wood from the elms for something else..... even as firewood!
    – Graphus
    Apr 27 '21 at 7:49
  • Yes, fibers are taken from the inner bark and spun just like wool or flax for the clothes. But these shavings of interest are definitely proper xylem. I could certainly wrangle up some low or high-density green hardwoods or some green softwood. I guess I'll just experiment around until I find something that doesn't dry too brittle... Probably start with willow or alder. Apr 27 '21 at 16:25
  • @DuncanOcel I've inadvertently had some pretty long shavings from green ash (European). That might be worth a shot, though I'm not sure how brittle it will be dry
    – Chris H
    Apr 28 '21 at 15:55

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