If you are like me you don’t think too much of string or rope or cord. You pick it up at the store or get a roll of it delivered on Amazon but cordage is astonishing and one of the most amazing inventions or discoveries made by humans. The first houses were held together with cordage, boat making needed cords, lashing for tool heads were critical to agriculture to say nothing of making clothing or fishing nets.
It would be hard to say that cordage had a singular origin. It certainly emerged in numerous locations. But where ever it emerged it required an exquisite knowledge of local plant life, their growing seasons and the parts that might be used for cordage. To make cordage requires a host of embodied knowledge and skill.
And I’d venture to guess that besides the synthetic cordage that is made – which is extruded and woven or braided by machines that even natural fiber cordage is largely industrially produced. Which is why I wanted to share with you this five minute long video of a few Norwegians who are keeping alive the at least three thousand year old tradition of hand weaving lime bast rope from the outer layer of trees. It is a slow process that involves soaking the strips of the tree in the ocean for months and then slowly unwinding the fibers of the tree so that they can be re-wound. It is beautiful and meditative and elegant and stunningly perfectly imperfect.
Give it a watch below and see how some old traditions are being kept alive that might keep us connected to the places that we live and that affirm something deeply human in us.