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Object Lesson Jamaican Lace-Bark: Its History and Uncertain Future


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The lace-bark tree (Lagetta lagetto (Sw.) Nash) has a robust inner bark which was used in Jamaica to make utilitarian objects such as whips and baskets, or was teased out into a natural lace to be used in dress and curios. Evidence suggests at least 300 years of lace-bark use for dress and in other areas of daily life by Maroons, an African-Jamaican community living in Cockpit Country, and varied use of less certain scale by Jamaicans outside Cockpit Country. The development of a large-scale souvenir industry in the 1880s, as mass tourism began in Jamaica, probably led to the decline in lace-bark tree populations first reported at about this time. One hundred years later, changing tastes and difficulties in obtaining and marketing lace-bark, have led to the end of its use throughout the island.
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Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Object Lesson
Jamaican Lace-Bark: Its History and
Uncertain Future
Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
The lace-bark tree (Lagetta lagetto (Sw.) Nash) has a robust inner bark which was used
in Jamaica to make utilitarian objects such as whips and baskets, or was teased out into
a natural lace to be used in dress and curios. Evidence suggests at least 300 years of
lace-bark use for dress and in other areas of daily life by Maroons, an African-Jamaican
community living in Cockpit Country, and varied use of less certain scale by Jamaicans
outside Cockpit Country. The development of a large-scale souvenir industry in the
1880s, as mass tourism began in Jamaica, probably led to the decline in lace-bark tree
populations first reported at about this time. One hundred years later, changing tastes
and difficulties in obtaining and marketing lace-bark, have led to the end of its use
throughout the island.
This paper presents a history of Jamaican lace-bark from the perspective of economic
botany. Rather than putting forward social or historical analyses, it hopes to present a
platform on which future studies engaging with Jamaica’s past can build.
Lace-bark is a form of barkcloth made from the inner bark of the lace-bark tree
(Lagetta lagetto (Sw.) Nash) which grows in Jamaica, Cuba and Hispaniola. However,
it differs markedly from all other tropical barkcloths, in that it is not beaten but instead
stretched and teased to form a natural lace.1 Its use is documented in the earliest natural
histories of Jamaica, beginning in the late seventeenth century. The stimulus for this
paper came from Emily Brennan’s undergraduate conservation project, carried out in
2009 on a lace-bark bonnet in the Economic Botany Collection (EBC), at the Royal
Botanic Gardens, Kew (Fig. 1).2 This is a sophisticated garment, dating to about 1860,
which immediately raised questions. Who made it and who would have worn it? What
were the qualities of the material and was it truly utilitarian? How was it harvested and
processed? To what extent are lace-bark items in collections representative of its use?
Initial research found a remarkably small body of literature since the turn of the twenty-
rst century; a note by botanists at Kew, a brief note in a global survey of barkcloth,
and a discussion of its place in Jamaican dress during the era of slavery.3
It became clear that we could fi ll the gap between these recent accounts and the well-
known descriptions by eighteenth-century authors such as Hans Sloane, Patrick Browne
and Edwards Long,4 through use of digital resources. The most important of these is the
Textile History, 44 (2), 235–253, November 2013
© Pasold Research Fund Ltd 2013 DOI: 10.1179/0040496913Z.00000000030
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Jamaican Lace-Bark
online archive of The Gleaner, today Jamaica’s major newspaper, with 2,623 references
to lace-bark since 1865.5 This, like books and reports authored by residents of Jamaica,
offers some insight into local perceptions of lace-bark. Details of who made and who
used lace-bark are hard to come by, but we have given special attention to such evidence
as survives. Although we have not spoken to anyone involved in lace-bark’s heyday,
which ended in the 1960s, we were able to visit and interview several involved in
the short-lived revival initiatives of the 1980s. We have also investigated the uses and
perceptions of lace-bark outside Jamaica, particularly in Britain. Here we have evidence
relating to the ‘exhibitionary complex’ of the Victorian period: catalogues of the
great international exhibitions, the objects once displayed in museums, and reports by
museum and botanic garden staff.
The Lace-Bark Tree
The botanical name of the lace-bark tree is Lagetta lagetto (Sw.) Nash (Fig. 2).6
Although invariably called lace-bark in printed sources, it is today known as white bark
in Cockpit Country.7 The genus Lagetta is in the Thymelaeaceae family.8 The inner
barks of several other genera in this family are used as a fi bre source: for example, paper
is made from Daphne bark in the Himalayas and from Edgeworthia chrysantha in
Japan. The lace-bark tree is narrow and pyramidal in shape, and relatively small at 4–9
metres high. The ecology of the lace-bark tree is a major determinant of its availability,
which we have explored in detail elsewhere.9 It forms part of the sub-canopy of the wet
limestone forest that grows along the karstic,10 mountainous, ridges of the island. The
tree grows in soil-less crevices.
A signifi cant part of the limestone forest in the western part of the island lies within
Cockpit Country, 1,300 square kilometres occupied by the Leeward Maroons — one of
Fig. 1. Lace-bark bonnet,
after conservation on a
custom-made mount. The
bonnet is made of an array
of materials including
metal, cotton, silk, seeds,
moss and strips of raw
plant fibre. The lace-bark
is overlaid, ruched and
decorated with stitching.
Height (excluding ribbons):
27 cm.
Photograph: © Royal
Botanic Gardens, Kew
(EBC 44939).
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
the free African-Jamaican communities that carried out a sustained campaign of armed
resistance against plantation slavery. Their resistance remains extremely important
historically and had signifi cant effects on the political stability of the colony. Today’s
inhabitants of Cockpit Country, including the main town of Accompong, are the descen-
dants of these freedom fi ghters and remain a dynamic community with unique tradi-
tions, who are to an extent autonomous from the rest of Jamaican society. Browne,
Fig. 2. Plate IV from
Hooker’s Journal of
Botany and Kew Garden
Miscellany, ii (1850)
showing lace-bark tree
(Lagetto lagetta) specimens
in Kew’s Museum. A
branch showing lace
extraction is on the right.
The whip shown on the
left is still held at Kew
(EBC 44946; see Fig. 3).
© Copyright The Board of
Trustees of the Royal
Botanic Gardens, Kew.
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Jamaican Lace-Bark
author of the Civil and Natural History of Jamaica (1756), notes that ‘the tree is pretty
common in the woods of Vere and St. Elizabeth’s . . . It has been, upon occasions, made
into different forms of apparel, by the wild and runaway negroes’, while Edward Long
writes in 1774 that ‘the wild Negroes have made apparel of it, of a very durable nature’.11
It can be assumed that both of these early historical accounts refer to the Maroon com-
munity. The Windward Maroons who lived in the Blue Mountains to the east of the
island did not have easy access to lace-bark; the tree does not grow on the metamorphic
rocks of the Blue Mountains. However, the distribution of lace-bark trees extends well
beyond Cockpit Country. An account in The Technologist of 1861 says: ‘in Jamaica it
is common in the woods of the parishes of St. John, Vere, Clarendon, Manchester and
St. Elizabeth’s, on the south side of the island and generally in the mountains of the
interior and north side parishes’.12
The question of distribution is important in understanding supply. A major source
of lace-bark trees clearly lay within the Maroon territory in the western part of the
island. Here it appears that lace-bark was collected and used by Maroons. The area was
largely inaccessible to outsiders, so it is likely that Maroon collectors of bark traded it
to the rest of the island, as is documented in the 1980s.13 Lace-bark in the more easterly
parishes would perhaps have been more accessible amongst the wider population but,
because of its inland habitat, would still have needed to be traded to have reached
coastal and urban settlements.
The tree appears to have been abundant in the past. Sloane, resident in Jamaica
between 1687 and 1689, describes it as ‘in great plenty’, Browne as being ‘pretty com-
mon’ in 1756 and Long notes it as ‘common in the woods’ in 1774, the same phrase as
used in 1861 in The Technologist account mentioned above.14 However, Gall’s Weekly
News Letter of 8 November 1890 carries the following communication from the
Botanical Department of Jamaica:
The Lace Bark Tree provides a very beautiful natural lace, the bark of the tree which is
used in large quantities by ladies for ‘Fern work,’ a characteristic art product of Jamaica.
It is feared that this tree will soon become extinct, as large numbers are cut down without
any attempt at replanting. The Director of Public Gardens and Plantations will be thank-
ful if anyone will send him seeds of this tree, in order that a small plantation may be
formed for the purpose of providing seeds in future for those who may wish to grow this
valuable and interesting tree.15
In 1884, the Women’s Self Help Society noted that:
The growing scarcity of lace has been arousing the serious attention of the committee,
as this bark is extensively used in articles sold by the Society. Lace bark trees are being
constantly cut down for fencing purposes as well as for the bark, and there is nothing to
indicate that new trees are being planted.16
I. K. Sibley notes the diminishing sizes of lace-bark pieces in 1960, indicating the use of
either younger trees or less aggressive harvesting techniques.17 The tree is described as
‘occasional’ in the most recent Flora.18 Herbarium collections and recent sight records
from botanists at the Institute of Jamaica show that the tree is still widespread within
the central mountainous ranges, but primarily in the form of small or immature trees.19
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Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
Two factors may have been responsible for lace-bark’s decline between the eigh-
teenth century and the current day. Firstly, deforestation in general; E. D. Hooper’s
report of 1886 documents the visible disappearance of forest in the late nineteenth
century, which has only accelerated through the twentieth century.20 Secondly, a likely
increase in the volume of lace-bark used in the late nineteenth century; we discuss this
In contrast to the abundant evidence, explored later, for how lace-bark souvenirs were
sold and exhibited, little is recorded of how lace-bark was harvested, processed or made
into objects. Harvesting would have taken place well off the beaten track. Those who
harvested the material are those least likely to have had the opportunity to write about
their work. Instead, we rely on scattered hints in literature, interviews, photography and
from objects which remain in collections.
Lace-bark was used in two forms. Utilitarian items such as whips and cordage were
made from strips of multiple layers of inner bark; in the case of whips, part of the woody
portion and outer bark remained intact (Fig. 3). In contrast, when used as a textile,
entire layers of inner bark were separated. If fresh from the tree, the inner bark could
easily be separated into thin layers which are pulled apart across the fi bre orientation to
form a rhomboidal net-like structure, or lace (Fig. 4). This stretching expands the bark
to at least fi ve times the width of the unstretched bark.
Several farmers, some of whom were Maroons, living in Accompong and Quickstep,
Cockpit Country, were interviewed by two of the authors (Emily Brennan and Lori-Ann
Harris) in 2010. Referring to the 1960s–1980s, the farmers said that harvesting of the
Fig. 3. Lace-bark whips
made from branches of the
lace-bark tree. The inner
woody portion and outer
bark have been partially
removed and the remaining
inner bark twisted into the
whip tails. Length of
handle, reading from top to
bottom: EBC 75996 36 cm;
EBC 44946(1) 43 cm; EBC
44946(2) 49 cm; EBC 44956
60 cm.
Photographs: © Royal
Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Jamaican Lace-Bark
bark was either by branch or as whole trees. They added that knowledge of the forest
and of the location of the trees was necessary to harvest lace-bark effi ciently, in combi-
nation with the ability to carry out heavy manual work, especially if the whole tree was
to be harvested. Historical sources also suggest that whole trees were felled. As noted
above, in 1884 the Women’s Self Help Society noted the impact of cutting trees for lace
as well as for fencing.21 In 1916, in response to a letter advocating the use of lace-bark
bre for rope, the Journal of the Jamaican Agricultural Society noted that, as lace-bark
was ‘not plentiful in every district and the tree took a score of years to mature so that
it could not be renewed quickly’, supply for twine manufacture could not be met.22
The evidence provided by demonstration pieces showing lace-bark extraction, and
widely sold as souvenirs, is inconclusive (Fig. 5). The pieces examined range between 5
and 8 cm in diameter and could either represent branches, or the trunks of young trees.
Sometimes very narrow branches were used. For example, as mentioned above, whips
were made by cutting branches about 2 cm in diameter, with the handle being formed
from the intact branch and the whip from braided inner bark with the wood removed
(Fig. 3).
We speculate that different uses of lace-bark may have required different harvesting
techniques. For utilitarian objects made from relatively narrow strips of inner bark, such
as bridles or cordage, the width of the original piece of inner bark (and therefore the
diameter of the portion of tree to be used) would have been less important as it was to
be cut up into longitudinal strips, requiring length rather than width. For small pieces
of lace, again small branches would be satisfactory. However, for large pieces of lace,
correspondingly large widths and lengths of bark would be required and the easiest way
to obtain these might be to strip all of the bark from a trunk, thus requiring the felling
of the whole tree, or barking the tree in situ and therefore killing it.
In the 1980s, we were told that stretching of the bark could be done either by the har-
vesters (usually men) or the makers (usually women) (Figs 6a, 6b and 6c). Cecile Brown,
Fig. 4. Close-up of
lace-bark sample collected
during fieldwork in
Cockpit Country, March
2010. The rhomboidal
structure of the material is
Photograph: © Emily
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Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
Fig. 5. Branch showing lace production technique; sold at Selfridge’s department store,
London, c. 1920–1930.
© The Field Museum of Natural History.
Fig. 6. Lace-bark harvesting in Cockpit Country with the Lennon family, March 2010.
(a) Derrick Lennon harvesting lace-bark; (b) Iris Lennon (mother of Derrick) about to begin
stretching the inner bark of the lace-bark tree; (c) the same piece of lace-bark after stretching.
The multiple layers are revealed together with a dramatic expansion in width.
Photographs: © Lori-Ann Harris.
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Jamaican Lace-Bark
a craft user of lace-bark in Kingston, confi rmed that in the 1980s she would either receive
the material stretched or in its bark form.
Freshly harvested inner bark can be separated from the corky outer bark by hand,
but, if the bark has been dried, then boiling or soaking is required to enable this. Once
stretched, the material can be softened through soaking or washing with soap, and
whitened through sun bleaching. Lace-bark has naturally occurring stiffeners which can
be soaked or rinsed out to the desired degree.
It can then be used as any lace or net, being remarkably strong yet soft. If desired, it
may then be dyed or stained, ruched, overlaid, and stitched for decoration as evidenced
in the EBC artefacts (Figs 1, 7 and 8). The unmodifi ed inner bark is clearl y a durable
material, as witnessed by its use in whips, and by the good condition of surviving
nineteenth-century specimens. It is harder to judge the durability of the lace. In Victo-
rian souvenirs, such as doilies and fans, the material is clearly ornamental and was not
designed to be handled. However, there are frequent references to the use of lace-bark
in dress (thus as lace rather than tougher bark) which specifi cally refer to its durability,
and items such as the Kew bonnet (Fig. 1) and the Saffron Walden dress (Fig. 9) and cap
seem to have been made for use. The apparent fl imsiness of many lace-bark souvenirs
should not be interpreted as meaning that the lace was not also a practical clothing
material. This is reinforced by several references to its suitability for laundering.23
Use during Slavery, 1655–1837
Jamaica was a lightly populated Spanish colony from 1509 to 1655. It was captured by
British forces in 1655 and was under their full control by 1660. By the 1690s, large-scale
slavery and sugar production had been established.24 The fi rst detailed description of
lace-bark is by Sir Hans Sloane, based on his stay in the 1680s:
Lageto . . . What is most strange in this Tree is, that the inward bark is made up of
about twelve Coats, Layers, or Tunicles, appearing white and solid, which if cut off for
some Length, clear’d of its outward Cuticula, or Bark, and extended by the Fingers,
the Filaments or Threads thereof leaving some rhomboidal Interstices, greater or smaller
Fig. 7. A pair of lace-bark slippers,
c. 1827. The lace-bark is overlaid on silk
and the soles of the slippers are made of
coconut bark. They appear never to have
been worn. Length: 28 cm.
Photograph: © Royal Botanic Gardens,
Kew (EBC 67770).
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
according to the Dimensions you extend it to, form a Web not unlike Gause, Lace, or thin
Muslin, in Length and Breadth proportionable to the Length and Circumference of the
Branch from which the Bark so extended was cut. This imitates Linens, Gause, or Lace,
so much, that in Scarcity it has been made use of in lieu of them for Mourning Linen both
for Men and Women, and unless one know them well and look attentively, he will not
perceive the Difference. I was told likewise, that it would bear washing well as other
Linen; and that King Charles the Second had a Cravat made of this presented to him by
Sir Thomas Lynch Governor of Jamaica. I had it from Mr. Leming, who sent it me from
Luidas, an Inland, mountainous, Plantation, where these Trees grew in great Plenty.25
Sloane’s collections of lace-bark were probably the fi rst scientifi c specimens to reach
Britain; a piece of lace is attached to the herbarium specimen in the Sloane Herbarium
and Sloane gave a piece to Ralph Thoresby for his museum in Leeds.26 Intriguingly, the
famous portrait of Sir Hans Sloane by Stephen Slaughter shows him holding a drawing
of the lace-bark plant.27 By the end of the eighteenth century, lace-bark was commonly
present in collections in the British Isles, including the British Museum: ‘Here is a shirt
or garment of it; being the entire inner bark of a tree’.28 A sample of the material was
also catalogued in Bullock’s London Museum and Pantherion catalogue of 1813.29
Lace-bark in the Duchess of Portland’s famous collection in London found its way,
after the sale of the collection in 1786, into Alexander Shaw’s compilation of tapa cloth
from Cook’s voyages.30 A dress and cap made of the material were put before the Arts
Society in 1835, to ‘ascertain their applicability and value to the arts of this country’.31
How widely used was lace-bark in pre-emancipation Jamaica? Browne and Long,
writing in the eighteenth century, seem to refer to its use by Maroons, as does Lunan in
The inner bark is of a fine texture, very tough, and divisible into a number of thin fila-
mentous lamina, which, being soaked in water, may be drawn out by the fingers into a
reticulum, resembling fine lace so nearly as to be scarcely distinguished from it. The ladies
of the island are extremely dexterous in making caps, ruffles, and complete suits of lace
with it; in order to bleach it, after being drawn out as much as it will bear, they expose it
stretched to the sunshine, and sprinkle it frequently with water. It bears washing extremel y
well, with common soap, or the curatoe soap, and acquires a degree of whiteness equal to
the best artificial lace. There is no doubt but very fine clothes might be made with it, and
perhaps paper. The wild negroes have made apparel with it of a very durable nature. The
common use to which it is at present applied is rope-making. The Spaniards are said to
work it into cables, and the Indians employ it in a variety of different fabrics.32
As mentioned previously, the association of lace-bark use with Maroons is unsurprising
in view of the co-location of Leeward Maroons and the lace-bark tree. However, this
also raises the question of the origin of lace-bark use. There is increasing evidence in the
seventeenth century of coexistence of Maroons and the pre-Columbian Taíno occupants
of the island, and therefore the potential for the sharing of pre-Columbian plant uses
with Maroons.33 At the same time, the majority of slaves arriving after British occupa-
tion were from West Africa, a region with a history of barkcloth use, albeit of beaten
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Jamaican Lace-Bark
barkcloth rather than lace-bark.34 Either way, it seems likely that the use of the bark as
a stretched lace substitute would have grown out of the amalgamation of infl uences in
Jamaica during the colonial era.
Steeve Buckridge has argued that ‘One of the most interesting African dress customs
that was maintained and nurtured in Jamaica by African slaves was the production of
bark-cloth and lace-bark’.35 However, with scanty evidence of such material culture, the
role of lace-bark in the dress of the enslaved remains unclear. We found no evidence that
British settlers adopted lace-bark as regular wear, but it was clearly appreciated, as evi-
denced by the gift of a lace-bark suit to Charles II36 and the existence of other elaborate
items of clothing that made their way to Britain, including the Saffron Walden dress and
the Kew slippers. Lace-bark whips were a common artefact in Victorian souvenir shops,
and remain in museum collections (Fig. 3). Their association with slavery, even after
emancipation, must have been clear to purchasers and viewers, and is a grim aspect of
the material’s history. In 1850 William Hooker wrote that ‘in the days of slavery the
negro-whips were commonly made of the branches of this tree, thus: of a portion of the
branch the wood was removed, and the bark twisted into the lash. The lower part of
the branch formed the handle, and if it was desired to ornament the latter, it was done
by unravelling the bark at the lower end, which thus formed a kind of tassel consisting
of spreading layers of lace’.37
Emancipation to Independence, 1838–1962
During the Victorian period there are many references to lace-bark in the context of
everyday life in Jamaica. Uses include harnesses and curtains,38 kitchen strainers,39
robes,40 party dresses41 and evening gowns42 made of lace-bark. In 1861 lace-bark is
noted as being ‘used by the natives for aprons, collars, caps . . . Its fi bres are also used
for cloth’.43 Buckridge recorded oral history, dating perhaps to the late nineteenth
century, that Maroon women ‘made lace blouses and frills for dresses and skirts, and
that some women wore outfi ts consisting of a lace-bark blouse and a banana-fi bre or
curatoe-fi bre skirt’.44
At the same time, a new use developed in the form of souvenirs. Many of the lace-
bark objects held in the EBC are typical of these. Souvenirs were more likely to be
preserved as they were less likely to be handled, and more likely to be shipped overseas.
It is not surprising that the majority of lace-bark objects in collections or those appear-
ing in antique shops in the early twenty-fi rst century are of this type. The EBC includes
doilies, either singular or grouped among leaves of decorated books often in combina-
tion with Jamaican fl ora (Fig. 8); whips; fans; branches with the inner bark partially
separated; and sheets or puffs of the material. Other less common items in the collection
include lampshades and decorated souvenir books. Doilies are the most common form
in which lace-bark appears in online auction houses today.45
Advertisements for shops selling lace-bark appear most frequently in The Gleaner
between 1880 and 1925.46 As the names of the shops imply (including The Curio Shop,
The Jamaica Souvenir and Curio Store and Jamaica Curios), clientele were seeking
curios and souvenirs, not items of everyday use. A children’s book of 1883 features a
visit to such a shop:
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Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
This seemed to be the nicest shop-visiting to do of any; it was so splendid to go down
Harbour Street, and into De Cordova and Gall’s, with full permission to look at all their
‘native products’ . . . and curiosities . . . ‘And these lace-bark fans!’ said Leonora. ‘Do look!
And this seed-work, and this shell work, and these flowers made of fish-scales, and these
made of the dagger-plant, and these d’oy-d’oy-what is it?-made of ferns! I wonder which
we are going to buy!’47
Lace-bark curios were also sold at market stalls, as recorded in this 1906 account of the
lively Kingston market, ‘she produces dainty d’oyleys and table-centres and fi ne orna-
ments made from the lace bark tree, and fashioned with ferns and pressed blossoms.
These things cost a great deal of money, but as a rule they are very decorative’.48 While
the way in which makers obtained lace-bark remains obscure, ‘wanted’ advertisements
in The Gleaner sometimes requested it as a raw material in ‘large quantities’,49 either
processed or ‘on the stick’.50
In addition to individual makers, such as the market woman mentioned above, insti-
tutions played a major role in the marketing and manufacture of lace-bark curios. The
Women’s Self Help Society was founded in 1880 to improve the income of women
by selling crafts for a small commission on sales.51 It also promoted the material in a
Kingston salesroom and at major exhibitions both in Jamaica and abroad.52 Its closure
in 1961 probably contributed to the decline in lace-bark use. Lace-bark items were also
made in orphanages. For example, a book of Victorian doyleys on sale at an antique
shop in 2012 bears a printed label stating:
The Doyleys are made of the bark of the LAGETTA-LINTEARIA Tree, growing in Jamaica.
The borders are cut out of the Spatha, the sheath of the fruit of the MOUNTAIN-
CABBAGE Palm. The FERNS are collected from different parts of Jamaica. The Doyleys
are sold for the benefit of the Orphanage for Girls of Half-way Tree, Jamaica.53
Fig. 8. A doyley on a lace-bark ground
with decorations of ferns surrounded by
seed hairs of French cotton, Calotropis
procera (Aiton) W. T. Aiton. Date
unknown. Diameter 34 cm.
Photograph: © Royal Botanic Gardens,
Kew (EBC 90405).
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Jamaican Lace-Bark
The high quality and quantity of botanical information on the label is typical: we have
seen a number of souvenir objects correctly labelled with the botanical names (note that
Lagetta lintearia was the most widely used botanical name for lace-bark in the Victo-
rian period). The accuracy of the names is not surprising as Jamaica had an active
government botanical department through the second half of the nineteenth century.
The emphasis on the botanical nature of the objects also fi ts well with a colonial view
of the Caribbean, effectively summarised by Wayne Modest, which saw:
. . . the New World as a place of the curious and the exotic, where nature abounded and
wild man roamed. Indeed, from the moment of European contact, the Caribbean has been
framed as a natural space — sometimes as the Garden of Eden and at other times a torrid
zone — within imperial imagination.54
Modest documents how, from Sloane onwards, collectors in the Caribbean have empha-
sised and prioritised the natural, as abstract from culture and Caribbean people. Lace-
bark, whilst collected for its connection to natural history, also embodies the Jamaican
people who made these objects and, as such, is a rich and unusual resource. It is not
surprising that it reached so many private and public collections in the eighteenth
and nineteenth centuries. Paralleling the production of fanciful, decorative objects, the
Victorian period also saw lace-bark take a similar position in literature. E. C. Stedman’s
poem Fern-land includes these lines:
Here on the lagetta tree
Laboring elves at starlight weave
Filmy bride-veils of its spray,
Shot with the cocuya’s ray, —
For in fairy-land we be!55
There was a persistent interest in the commercial development of fi bre plants in
Victorian Jamaica, part of a search for alternative crops driven by declining sugar pric-
es. Lace-bark features sporadically, for example as one of many local and introduced
bre plants listed by the government botanist Nathaniel Wilson in 1855.56 There are
occasional calls for its development, as in the case of the 1916 interest in twine manu-
facture. However, lace-bark features very little in the annual reports and other publica-
tions of the government department concerned with botany and agriculture, and there
is no evidence of industrial manufacture. The West-India Hemp and General Fibre
Company was formed in 1854 with plans for two factories in Jamaica and Demerara to
produce a wide range of fi bres, including lace-bark.57 The Company appears not to have
become active. Trade in lace-bark goods was established with Messrs R. Manie and Son,
Princess Street, Edinburgh, but reportedly failed as a result of the high costs: at 2s per
doyley, a profi t would not be made on sale.58 Further evidence suggests that global trade
was inhibited by cost. In 1894 the Honorary Commissioner of Jamaica, C. J. Ward,
expressed the view that a considerable amount of lace-bark could be sold in America if
the duty were to be lowered.59 The collections at Kew include experimental paper made
by Thomas Routledge, the British papermaker, who worked with a wide range of fi bre
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Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
plants from around the world. Lace-bark was one of many species that failed to enter
the repertoire of papermaking plants.
It is clear that lace-bark production had greatly increased by the end of the 1880s
through the systematic and large-scale production of decorative items. External tourism
may have been one driver. Few tourists came to Jamaica in most of the nineteenth
century. The island had a reputation for poor health, poor transport connections, inter-
nally and externally, and few hotels.60 However, regular passenger transport on banana
boats between Boston and Jamaica, started in the 1870s and became large-scale with the
advent of steamships on the route from the mid-1880s.
Lace-Bark Abroad
In 1850 Sir William Hooker wrote that ‘every one has heard of the “Jamaica Lace-Bark,”
and has inspected the curious and beautiful substance: few have seen specimens of the
leaves and fl owers, still fewer have seen the living plant, nor was it, we believe, perma-
nently introduced in the latter state to Europe till the year 1844’.61 This familiarity
ts with the signifi cant ow of lace-bark specimens into collections before the second
half of the nineteenth century discussed above. The living plant also became widely
distributed in the Victorian period, with trees recorded at botanic gardens in New York,
Sydney, Trinidad and Sri Lanka.
Beginning with the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, lace-bark products received
even wider exposure as a result of their regular display at international exhibitions.
They were shown at the International Exhibition of 1862, London; the Paris Universal
Exhibition of 1878; the Jamaica International Exhibition of 1891 in Kingston; the
Chicago World Fair of 1893; the Coronation Exhibition of 1911 in London; and the
British Empire Exhibition in Wembley in 1924.62 Exhibits were not only for show; some
were for sale. A report on the Chicago Fair of 1893 records: ‘To spectators at the World’s
Fair; there was nothing more in demand at the World’s Fair than our lace-bark puffs
and whips. We have ready for shipment 250 dozen lace-bark whips and 400 dozen lace-
bark puffs’.63 At the St John’s Exhibit of 1902 in New Brunswick, Canada, the displays
of the Women’s Self Help Society of Jamaica were extremely popular, with sales being
withheld to prevent empty displays.64
The lace-bark objects held in many museum collections are mainly of nineteenth-
century origin.65 Doylies are the most common textile item, with lace-bark whips being
the most common overall. Many collections hold samples of the material in its stretched
but unconstructed form. We have found only a few items of clothing: the child’s dress
(Fig. 9) and cap at Saffron Walden Museum, Essex, detailed above, and the bonnet
(Fig. 1) and a cap at the EBC. This is in contrast to abundant reports of the use of lace-
bark as clothing in Victorian Jamaica, showing that, as suggested, museum collections
are biased towards objects produced as souvenirs.
The Last Days of Lace-Bark, 1960s–1980s
As late as 1958, the Tourist Board Offi ce supplied lace-bark to be made into a dress for
a show to be sponsored by Cunard.66 This indicates that lace-bark was suffi ciently
familiar to have a role in touristic promotion. Articles in The Gleaner from the 1960s
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Jamaican Lace-Bark
refer to the decline of lace-bark production, noting in 1960, ‘men have to go out into
the forest and stay there for a few days at least’;67 in 1968 ‘in these modern days men no
longer want to strip the tree which produces the lace’68 and also in 1968 ‘it might be
termed a laborious job for men’.69
This was part of a wider pattern in decline of what could be termed ‘traditional
crafts’ in the 1960s. The Jamaican government responded in the 1970s and 1980s through
the activities of Things Jamaican, which provided administration services, manuals such
as Marketing Hints for Jamaican Craft-Workers (which listed over 500 craft-workers),
as well as support networks and trade opportunities including exhibitions and directo-
ries.70 This led to a revival of interest in lace-bark; for example, with decorative fl owers
made from lace-bark harvested in and bought from suppliers in Cockpit Country.
Maroon interviewees in Accompong told us that lace-bark had been used in the
1960s–1980s for utilitarian objects such as rope, baskets, mats and hammocks, but that
it is not used today (2010). Bernard Lennon, a former trader and now a farmer from
near Quickstep, also in Cockpit Country, was listed as a supplier of lace-bark in the
1983 Manual. In 2010 we visited his family near Quickstep. They recalled harvesting the
bark in the 1980s and selling it to craft workers elsewhere in Jamaica. They remembered
talk of plantations and a lace-bark factory, but nothing ever came of it. A former
Accompong Maroon colonel recalled the raw material being sold at market in Black
River and New Market by members of his community during the 1970s and 1980s. He
also stated that, prior to this, notably in the 1960s, lace-bark production was suffi cient
to support some people’s livelihoods.
Fig. 9. Lace-bark dress, donated in
1833 by Marchioness Cornwallis. Saffron
Walden Museum, Essex (no. 1833.59).
Photograph: © Saffron Walden Museum,
Essex (Image No. 000491).
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
The reasons for the decline in lace-bark use are complex. Four factors regularly came
up during conversations: the wider decline in interest in ‘traditional crafts’ in Jamaica
that dates back to at least the 1960s and is perhaps linked to the arrival of plastics;
diffi culties in harvesting, due to the labour required, scarcity of trees, and the low price s
fetched for the raw material; the importance of intermediaries in promoting lace-bark
and ensuring regular supplies, and the impact of Hurricane Gilbert in September 1988,
which left one-third of the population living in shelters and had a long-term impact on
Today lace-bark is a largely forgotten material. This forms a striking contrast with the
prominence of lace-bark in the writings of travellers and natural historians from the
seventeenth century onward, and, in particular, its apparent importance in Maroon
dress and daily life until the twentieth century. The use of lace-bark garments as prestige
gifts, whether to Charles II or Queen Victoria, suggests that British society had a
high regard for the material.71 Scattered references show that lace-bark was used by
other African-Jamaicans outside Cockpit Country, supporting Buckridge’s case for its
use by enslaved and free Africans in Jamaica, on the grounds of its accessibility and
The late nineteenth century saw an important new market for lace-bark as curios and
souvenirs. The coincidence in timing between the arrival of the fi rst steamships bearing
tourists in the 1880s, the appearance of many curio shops in Kingston at this time, and
the fi rst report of the tree’s decline in 1890, is striking. Despite all the uncertainties
in quantifying lace-bark use, its use by Maroons and other communities in daily life
appears to have been moderate and perfectly sustainable in the two previous centuries.
In view of the extensive deforestation that has taken place in Jamaica during the
twentieth century, and the more recent threat to lace-bark habitats from bauxite mining,
we think it would be diffi cult to re-establish lace-bark harvesting from the existing pop-
ulation of trees unless sustainable harvesting techniques are developed. A major factor
in the decline of lace-bark may be the loss of popularity of materials made from plants,
a worldwide phenomenon that began in the 1950s. Fibre products have been particu-
larly apt to being replaced by plastics. In the last two decades this has changed; plant
materials and fi bres are recognised as being sustainable, and if harvested and manufac-
tured locally and sustainably, benefi cial to rural communities in economic terms.
Fieldwork by Lori-Ann Harris and Emily Brennan could not have taken place without the practical
support of staff at the Institute of Jamaica (especially Keron Campbell) and financial support from the
Pasold Research Fund, the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers and the P&L
Trust. We are very grateful to all our interviewees, including Peter and Annabella Proudlock, Lee Binns
and Cecile Browne in Kingston; Lawrence Rowe, Mark Wright and Teron Cawley in Accompong;
Derrick Lennon and family in Quickstep. We are also grateful to Steeve Buckridge, Eve Graves
and Wayne Modest for much support and inspiration and to two anonymous referees for useful
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Jamaican Lace-Bark
1 L. Pole and S. Doyal, Second Skin: Everyday and Sacred Uses of Bark Worldwide (Exeter: Royal
Albert Memorial Museum, 2004).
2 E. Brennan, ‘The role of conservation in increasing awareness of Jamaican lacebark’, ICOM-CC
16th Triennial Preprints, Lisbon, 2011. Available from:
43D7F051065D4B878882C77CB5022753 &doc=13978&img=3735 [Accessed: 3 July 2013].
3 G. Pearman and H. Prendergast, ‘Plant portraits; Items from the lace-bark tree [Lagetta lagetto
(W. Wright) Nash; Thymelaeaceae] from the Caribbean’, Economic Botany, liv (2000), pp. 4–6; Pole
and Doyal, Second Skin; S. Buckridge, The Language of Dress; Resistance and Accommodation in
Jamaica, 17601890 (Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, 2004).
4 H. Sloane, A Voyage to the Islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers, and Jamaica, ii
(London, 1725); P. Browne, The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica in Three Parts (London:
T. Osborne & J. Shipton, 1756); E. Long, The History of Jamaica, iii (London: T. Lowndes, 1774).
5 The Gleaner (sometimes The Daily Gleaner) was founded in 1834; most issues from 1865 to today
are online at [Accessed: 21 July 2013].
6 Other botanical names formerly used for lace-bark are Daphne lagetto Sw. and Lagetta lintearia
7 F. G. Cassidy and R. B. Le Page, A Dictionary of Jamaican English (Mona: University of the West
Indies Press, 2002), p. 470. This was also confirmed in conversations during fieldwork. An eighteenth-
century packet of lace-bark is labelled as ‘Alligator Bark’, but we have not seen this name used else-
where. This packet, including the wrapper and its contents, are in the State Library of New South
Wales’s copy of A. Shaw, A Catalogue of the Different Specimens of Cloth Collected in the Three
Voyages of Captain Cook (London: Alexander Shaw, 1787). Available from: gov.
au/album/albumview.aspx?itemID =846616&acmsid=0 [Accessed: 6 October 2012].
8 The genus name Lagetta was derived by the botanist Jussieu from the local name ‘lagetto’, itself
a corruption of the Spanish word latigo, meaning a horse-whip; W. R. Gerard, ‘Origin of the word
Lagetto’, American Anthropologist, xiv (1912), p. 404.
9 E. Brennan and M. Nesbitt, ‘Is Jamaican lace-bark (Lagetta lagetto) a sustainable material?’, Text:
for the Study of Textile Art, Design and History, xxxviii (2010–2011), pp. 17–23.
10 An area of eroded limestone with fissures.
11 Browne, The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica, p. 371; Long, The History of Jamaica, iii,
p. 747.
12 W. T. M., ‘The lace bark, or gauze tree’, The Technologist, i (1861), pp. 254–55.
13 This became apparent during interviews in Cockpit Country, and is evidenced in the suppliers’
list in Things Jamaican, Marketing Hints for Jamaican Craft Workers (Kingston: Things Jamaican and
IICA Jamaica, Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture, 1983), p. 33.
14 Sloane, A Voyage to the Islands, ii, p. 22; Browne, The Civil and Natural History of Jamaica,
p. 371; Long, The History of Jamaica, iii, pp. 747–48, 858.
15 Anon., ‘Work of the Botanical Department’, Gall’s Weekly News Letter, 8 November 1890.
16 Report quoted in U. Marson, ‘Women’s Self Help Society; End of an era of devoted service’, The
Gleaner, 10 November 1961.
17 I. K. Sibley, ‘Trees mean much to mankind; surprise’, The Gleaner, 2 July 1960.
18 C. D. Adams, Flowering Plants of Jamaica (Mona: University of the West Indies, 1972),
pp. 408–09.
19 Personal communication, Keron Campbell, Institute of Jamaica, March 2010.
20 E. D. Hooper, Report on the Forests of Jamaica (London: Waterlow, 1886).
21 Report referenced in Marson, ‘Women’s Self Help Society’.
22 Anon., ‘Board of Management’, Journal of the Jamaica Agricultural Society, xx, no. 5 (1916),
pp. 161–67.
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Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
23 Sloane, Voyage to the Islands, ii, p. 22; Long, The History of Jamaica, iii, pp. 748; J. Lunan,
Hortus Jamicensis, i (St Jago de la Vega Gazette, 1814), p. 436.
24 For this, and much background on Jamaican history and culture, we have drawn on O. Senior,
Encyclopaedia of Jamaican Heritage (St Andrew: Twin Guinep, 2003).
25 Sloane, Voyage to the Islands, ii, p. 22.
26 R. Thoresby, Ducatus Leodiensis (London: Maurice Atkins, 1715), p. 450.
27 Portrait by Stephen Slaughter, Sir Hans Sloane, Bt, NPG 569 (National Portrait Gallery,
transferred from British Museum in 1879: 1736); K. D. Kriz, ‘Curiosities, commodities, and translated
bodies in Hans Sloane’s “Natural History of Jamaica”’, William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, lvii,
(2000), pp. 35–78.
28 Anon., A Companion to all the Principal Places of Curiosity and Entertainment in and about
London and Westminster (London: J. Drew, 1789), p. 180.
29 W. Bullock, A Companion to the London Museum and Pantherion . . . in the Egyptian Temple,
Piccadilly, London (London: Whittingham & Rowland, 1813), p. 9.
30 Shaw, Catalogue of the Different Specimens of Cloth, no. 39.
31 Anon., ‘Society of Arts; Domestic miscellany’, Preston Chronicle, 1211, 14 November 1835.
32 Lunan, Hortus Jamicensis, i, p. 436.
33 C. Goucher and K. Agorsah, ‘Excavating the roots of resistance: the significance of Maroons in
Jamaican archaeology’, in J. A. Delle, M. W. Hauser and D. V. Armstrong eds, Out of Many, One
People: The Historical Archaeology of Colonial Jamaica: 1 (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press,
2011), pp. 144–59.
34 Pole and Doyal, Second Skin, pp. 43–44.
35 Buckridge, Language of Dress, p. 50.
36 Sloane, Voyage to the Islands, ii, p. 22.
37 W. J. Hooker and J. Smith, ‘Tab 4502’, Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, lxxvi (1850).
38 Anon., ‘The lace bark. Used for light harness’, The Gleaner, 16 June 1906.
39 Buckridge, Language of Dress, p. 51.
40 F. A. Pouchet, The Universe; or The Wonders of Creation. The Infinitely Great and the
Infinitely Little (Portland: H. Hallet & Co., 1883), pp. 123, 350–51.
41 W. Clute ed., The American Botanist, Devoted to Economic and Ecological Botany, x (Joliet, Ill.:
Willard N. Clute & Co., 1906).
42 Anon., ‘Caronia gives winter cruise season vigorous start’, The Gleaner, 17 October 1958.
43 E. G. Squier, Tropical Fibres: Their Production and Economic Extraction (New York: Scribner
& Co., 1861), p. 18.
44 Buckridge, Language of Dress, p. 52.
45 For example, doilies regularly appear for sale on eBay; see, for example, http:// www. ebay.
/350815629854 [Accessed: 27 June 2013].
46 Examples include: S. J. Ronito at the Curlo Room Hotel, Titchfield; The Lady Musgrave
Women’s Self Help Society, 8 and 28 Church Street, Kingston; The Fancywork Depot, Kingston; The
Unique Jewelry Store, Kingston; The Curio Shop, 78 Harbour Street, Kingston; The Jippi Jappa Hat
Depot and Curio Emporium, Kingston; The Jamaica Souvenir and Curio Store, 4 doors East of East
Street, 77b Harbour Street, Kingston; The Old Curiosity Shop, 76.5 Harbour Street, Kingston;
Jamaica Curios, 16 King Street, Kingston; C. S. Chamberlin, 197 Tower Street, Kingston; Levien and
Sherlock, 68 Harbour Street, Kingston; The Gem Supply Co., 76 Harbour Street, Kingston; and A. E.
Sampson of Mandeville, Manchester.
47 J. Humphreys, Growing Up: A Story of Girls which Boys may Read (London: Griffith & Farran,
1883), p. 45.
48 J. Henderson, Jamaica (London: A. & C. Black, 1906), pp. 29–30.
49 Anon., ‘Wanted. A reliable party to supply Lace bark whips and puffs in large quantities’, The
Gleaner, 25 May 1920.
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Jamaican Lace-Bark
50 Anon., ‘To buy in large quantities lace bark, manufactured or on the stick’, The Gleaner,
13 January 1893.
51 Marson, ‘Women’s Self Help Society’.
52 Anon., ‘International Exhibition Jamaica’, The Gleaner, 29 May 1891; Anon., ‘The Jamaica
Court at Chicago’, The Gleaner, 26 April 1894.
53 Offered for sale at
Lace-Bark [Accessed: 6 October 2012].
54 W. Modest, ‘We have always been modern: museums, collections, and modernity in the
Caribbean’, Museum Anthropology, xxxv (2012), pp. 85–96.
55 E. C. Stedman, Poems now First Collected (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1897), pp. 174–80.
56 N. Wilson, ‘On the useful vegetable products, especially the fibres, of Jamaica’, Hooker’s Journal
of Botany, vii (1855), pp. 335–40.
57 Anon, ‘West-India Intelligence’, The Anti-slavery Reporter (March 1854), pp. 69–71.
58 Anon., ‘Ambassador for Jamaica Mr Gall doing good work in England’, The Gleaner, 18
October 1899.
59 Anon., ‘Jamaica at the Fair’, The Gleaner, 5 January 1894.
60 F. F. Taylor, To Hell with Paradise: A History of the Jamaican Tourist Industry (Pittsburgh:
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993).
61 Hooker and Smith, ‘Tab 4502’. A living tree was brought to Kew in 1793 by William Bligh (of
breadfruit fame) but it soon died.
62 E. Forbes, ‘Essay of the vegetable kingdom as illustrated in the exhibition’, The Art-Journal
Illustrated Catalogue; The Industry of all Nations, 1851 (London: George Virtue, 1851), p. 6; Anon.,
Descriptive Catalogue of Articles Exhibited by the Royal Society of Arts, Jamaica (assisted by
the Society of Industry, Hanover, Jamaica) at the International Exhibition 1862 (London: Taylor &
Francis, 1862), p. 16; Anon., Paris Universal Exhibition; Catalogue of the British Colonies (London:
Offices of the Royal Commission, 1878), p. 40; Anon., ‘International exhibition Jamaica’, The Gleane r,
29 May 1891; Anon., ‘The Jamaica Court at Chicago’, The Gleaner, 26 April 1894; Anon., ‘Coronation
Exhibition at The White City’, The Gleaner, 4 October 1911; Anon., ‘The Wembley Exhibition’,
The Gleaner, 4 March 1925.
63 I. K. Sibley, ‘Jamaica’s wonder tree’, The Gleaner, 12 August 1968.
64 Anon., ‘The Jamaica exhibit at St. John’, The Gleaner, 10 March 1902.
65 Collections holding lace-bark items today include Bagshaw Museum, Huddersfield; Great North
Museum, Hancock, Huddersfield; Horniman Museum, London (with some pieces misidentified as tapa
cloth); Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford; Royal Collection, Osborne House, Isle of Wight; Saffron Walden
Museum, Essex; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; World Cultures Department at the National
Museums of Scotland, Edinburgh; World Museum Liverpool, National Museums of Liverpool;
Institute of Jamaica, Kingston; Field Museum Botany Department, Chicago; Museum of Vancouver;
Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA; Newark Museum, USA and the Textile Museum of
66 Anon., ‘Caronia gives winter cruise season vigorous start’.
67 Sibley, ‘Trees mean much to mankind; surprise’.
68 Anon., ‘A countryman’s diary by “country cousin”’, The Gleaner, 1 June 1968.
69 Sibley, ‘Jamaica’s wonder tree’.
70 Things Jamaican, Marketing Hints for Jamaican Craft workers (Kingston: Things Jamaican and
IICA Jamaica (Inter-American Institute for Co-operation on Agriculture), 1983); Anon., ‘Cultural
showcase ends world tourism meeting’, The Gleaner, 25 June 1982; Anon., ‘Craft exposition series
continues in Ocho Rios’, The Gleaner, 24 March 1988; Anon., ‘Just beautiful things’, The Gleaner,
18 June 1988.
71 Cecile Brown recalls making the lace-bark part of an item given to Queen Elizabeth II on the
occasion of her visit to a craft centre in 1983; personal communication, 9 March 2010.
Published by Maney Publishing (c) Pasold Research Fund
Emily Brennan, Lori-Ann Harris and Mark Nesbitt
Emily Brennan is a postgraduate student in the Department of Anthropology, Univer-
sity College London. Emily trained as a conservator at Camberwell College of Art,
and carried out research into Jamaican lace-bark as part of her student project in the
Economic Botany Collection, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Following a Masters Degree
in The Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the University of East Anglia,
Emily is currently working towards a research degree on barkcloth production.
Lori-Ann Harris currently works with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC)
ensuring operational conformity with environmental legal frameworks and the sustain-
able management of natural resources. She obtained a BSc in Environmental Biology
from the University of the West Indies, specialising in Terrestrial Biodiversity. She previ-
ously worked as Assistant Botanist, Institute of Jamaica (Natural History Museum
of Jamaica), assisting in managing the National Botanical Collections and conducting
research on Jamaican fl ora.
Mark Nesbitt has been Curator of the Economic Botany Collection, Royal Botanic
Gardens, Kew since 2006. His research interests focus on the nineteenth century, includ-
ing the uses and history of plant fi bres, materia medica, and the roles of botany and
museums in the British Empire.
... Many indigenous cultures have used barkcloth throughout history, where the bark of a suitable tree is usually beaten or pressed and then used as clothing or in crafts. For example, Asia and the Pacific regions used tapa, which may have originated in China [97], Indigenous Australians used paperbark [25,98], the Caribbeans used lacebark, which did not need to be beaten [12], the Pacific Northwest used cedar bark [80], and the Baganda people of Uganda made barkcloth from the Mutuba tree, which is listed as an UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity [102]. Beyond simply the production of paper, these Indigenous papers were also folded. ...
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How to engage Indigenous students in their education particularly to mathematics is a question being regularly discussed within schools and academic forums. This paper proposes embracing the Indigenous methodology of narrative and combining it with existing origami narrative methodologies to engage Indigenous students to mathematics principles at many different cognitive stages. Origami, the art of folding paper or other materials, is an ancient art form that has occurred across multiple societies including Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations where the folding of paper or fabrics has presented cultural knowledge from within that society. This paper reviews the connections between origami and mathematics education as well as their use in an Indigenous setting by incorporating Indigenous narrative aspects into the origami art form. We present theory in support of the use of storigami as an educational tool in Indigenous mathematics classrooms, and we provide original examples of the adaptation of origami techniques for representing and engaging with Australian Indigenous art and culture while simultaneously engaging the students mathematically.
... En el nuevo mundo los usos de Thymelaeaceae como fibra de amarre o textil se concentran en Centroamérica y el Caribe (ej. Roig 1965, Nevling & Barringer 1988, Grijalva 2006, Brennan et al. 2013, mientras que en Sudamérica los reportes de este tipo son escasos (ej. Hernández et al. 1994, Keller 2009), siendo más frecuentemente empleadas con fines medicinales, veterinarios o como venenos para caza y pesca (Gyllenhaal et al. 1986, Bennett 1990, Vendruscolo & Mentz 2006, Mejía & Turbay 2009). ...
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Se reporta por primera vez para Bolivia el uso tradicional de una especie de planta de la familia Thymelaeaceae como planta de fibra. Se presenta la descripción de la planta, la distribución conocida, fotos de la especie y comentarios adicionales.
... In the past, herbarium specimens sometimes doubled as ethnobotanical specimens, as in the case of Sir Hans Sloane's herbarium specimen of the Jamaican lace-bark tree (Lagetta lagetto) housed in the Natural History Museum in London, to which is attached a piece of lace made from the inner bark of the tree (Figure 2; Brennan et al., 2013). However, this is unusual (and not standard practice today); instead, when present, ethnobotanical information is often conveyed by written information on the herbarium sheet (Figure 3), as well as in associated specimens (ethnobotanical, biochemical, wood etc.) for which the herbarium specimen is a voucher. ...
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Since it was established at the University of the West Indies in 1990, the Maroon Heritage Research Project (MHRP) has conducted archaeological surveys, mapping, and excavation of Maroon and Maroon- related sites across the island of Jamaica and other parts of the circum- Caribbean region, including Suriname. Earlier phases of the project were conducted on Jamaican Maroon sites, including Nanny Town, Old Accompong Town, Seaman's Valley, Gun Barrel, and Reeder's Pen. This research contributed to a better understanding of the complexity of the Maroon past, including interactions between Maroons and dominant Atlantic cultural groups, as well as freedom- fighting partnerships Maroons forged with indigenous peoples and enslaved Africans. These studies have also explored Maroon survival strategies and their guerrilla lifestyle, using archaeological evidence for the first time, to examine the flexibility of Maroon sociospatial relationships as well as the formative process and subsequent transformations of their settlements and culture. As with any long- Term investigation, many questions remain unanswered. However, cultural data on settlement locations and patterns, spatial behavior, mortuary practices, technological strategies, artifact patterns, and soil chemical analysis and dating have shed light on land use, spatial relationships, group dynamics, and other aspects of the Maroon experience. Our objective has been to employ archaeological evidence, supported by ethnographic and archival data, to identify the range of Maroon cultural responses and adaptations and thus to create a more nuanced understanding of the ecological, social, and economic conditions experienced by Maroons during the colonial era. Maroon archaeology has revealed that a complex set of interactions emerged from the oppressive context of plantation slavery. Furthermore, the material evi dence of Maroon resistance to the plantation complex in the Americas challenges the historiographical assumptions that relegate the achievements of small- scale societies to a secondary place in New World history. Rather than a marginal aberration, the Maroon experience was a central, defining feature of the post- 1500 Atlantic world. Archaeology provides evidence previously unavailable for the reconstruction of the history of the pioneer freedom fighters, whose past weaves through five centuries of history and culture in the Americas. The combined use of ethnographic, archival, and archaeological evidence in studying past societies has been found to be valuable to both anthropological and historical research (Gould 1980; Posnansky 1984; Agorsah 1985; Singleton 1985). Introducing archeological evidence to the study of Maroons also helps make the large volume of written documentation and ethnographic data more complete and meaningful. The focus on resistance goes beyond the common approach to the study of small- scale societies as victims of slavery in the Americas. As an important single constant strand in resistance history, the Maroon evidence also provides temporal and cultural links between the experiences of the Maroons in Jamaica and other New World societies (Figure 8.1). The story of the Maroons-enslaved Africans and their descendants-who fled from bondage and fought a long series of wars to maintain their freedom goes back to the very earliest days of European settlement and slavery in the New World (Thompson 2006). Documentary evidence from early sixteenth- century Hispaniola mentions the first known African slave to escape his captors and flee into the interior. Others later joined him to form the first documented Maroon society on an island off the coast of Hispaniola. In the succeeding centuries, hundreds more runaway communities would emerge throughout the New World. Many of the slaves escaped from the mines and plantations of the European colonizers and fought to maintain their freedom. Although small in size and in their operations, Maroon communities were among the first Americans, in the wake of 1492, to resist colonial domination, striving for independence and defining the experience of freedom. They forged new cultures and identities and developed solidarity out of diversity through processes that only later took place on a much larger and more visible scale. Colonial Maroon societies ranged in size from small groups of a few people to powerful groups often referred to as bands, although some numbered up to a thousand or more. Maroonage was a common phenomenon in all parts of the western hemisphere where slavery was practiced. Wherever large expanses of inaccessible and uninhabited terrain permitted, as in the rough and rugged mountains of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, or the equatorial forest and marshlands of Suriname, or the marshlands of Oklahoma, Virginia, or Texas in North America, these communities proliferated (Figure 8.1). For example, in the British North American colonies, and later the United States, where unoccupied yet habitable spaces were not as plentiful, more than fifty Maroon settlements are known to have come into being between 1672 and 1864 (Bilby and N'Diaye 1992). It was in these inaccessible areas that the Maroons found security, forging new cultures and setting the pace for freedom from slavery. Following the abolition of slavery, many Maroon groups were assimilated into the larger societies that surrounded them. Like other small- scale historical communities so absorbed by larger societies, Maroons are sometimes scarcely remembered as ancestral freedom fighters. This neglect is compounded by the fact that much of the documentary evidence about the Maroons comes down from the very colonial people against whom they fought and whose intention it was to create divisive relationships among peoples of African and indigenous descent. Archaeological evidence has filled in some significant gaps in our knowledge of Maroonage while providing more tangible material to broaden our understanding of the complexity of colonial societies more generally. An important collective contribution of Maroon studies has been the provision of explanations for cultural successes, adaptations in family lifestyles, subsistence, technology, on- The- ground political organization, settlement pattern, and spatial behavior and how these in turn contributed to Maroon survival outside the boundaries of the surrounding society. Many lines of evidence can be adduced to support the assertion that the Maroon experience is emblematic of broader processes that shaped the heritage of the western hemisphere. Not only were Maroons in the forefront of resistance to slavery, they were pioneers in exploring and adapting to the more remote, unsettled spaces in both American continents and the Caribbean. In the French colony of Saint- Domingue, for example, Maroons helped launch the Haitian Revolution, which gave birth to one of the first independent republics in the Americas in 1804. In Jamaica, they were among the first to establish communities in the remote Blue Mountains and Cockpit regions. Although there is a large body of scholarly writing about Maroons based solely on archival and oral history, relatively little is known about the processes of the formation of these persistent societies of freedom fighters.
In this article, I explore the ways in which notions of the ancient and the modern have helped to shape early museological interest and practices in the Caribbean. I argue that the Caribbean, and for my purposes Jamaica, occupies an ambiguous place between the ancient and the modern worlds—not ancient enough yet not modern enough—which has resulted in the material culture of the modern Caribbean being largely absent from anthropological (and in fact history) collections both in the Caribbean as well as in museums across Europe. The result is that the region has come to be defined materially primarily through its natural and not its cultural history, and thus is represented as a place of nature and not culture.
In the course of the nineteenth century, Jamaica transformed itself from a pestilence-ridden “white man’s graveyard” to a sun-drenched tourist paradise. Deftly combining economics with political and cultural history, Frank Fonda Taylor examines this puzzling about-face and explores the growth of the tourist industry into the 1990s. He argues that the transformations in image and reality were not accidental or due simply to nature’s bounty. They were the result of a conscious decision to develop this aspect of Jamaica’s economy. Jamaican tourism emerged formally at an international exhibition held on the island in 1891. The international tourist industry, based on the need to take a break from stressful labor and recuperate in healthful and luxurious surroundings, was a newly awakened economic giant. A group of Jamaican entrepreneurs saw its potential and began to cultivate a tourism psychology which has led, more than one hundred years later, to an economy dependent upon the tourist industry. The steamships that carried North American tourists to Jamaican resorts also carried U.S. prejudices against people of color. “To Hell with Paradise” illustrates the problems of founding a tourist industry for a European or U.S. clientele in a society where the mass of the population is poor, black, and with a historical experience of slavery and colonialism. By the 1990s, tourism had become the lifeblood of the Jamaican economy, but at an enormous cost: enclaves of privilege and ostentation that exclude the bulk of the local population, drug trafficking and prostitution, soaring prices, and environmental degradation. No wonder some Jamaicans regard tourism as a new kind of sugar. Taylor explores timely issues that have not been previously addressed. Along the way, he offers a series of valuable micro histories of the Jamaican planter class, the origins of agricultural dependency (on bananas), the growth of shipping and communications links, the process of race relations, and the linking of infrastructural development to tourism. The text is illustrated with period photographs of steamships and Jamaican tourist hotels.
On the useful vegetable products, especially the fibres, of Jamaica', Hooker's
  • Wilson
Wilson, 'On the useful vegetable products, especially the fibres, of Jamaica', Hooker's Journal of Botany, vii (1855), pp. 335–40.
The Gleaner The Universe; or The Wonders of Creation The American Botanist
  • Anon
Anon., 'The lace bark. Used for light harness', The Gleaner, 16 June 1906. 39 Buckridge, Language of Dress, p. 51. 40 F. A. Pouchet, The Universe; or The Wonders of Creation. The Infinitely Great and the Infinitely Little (Portland: H. Hallet & Co., 1883), pp. 123, 350–51. 41 W. Clute ed., The American Botanist, Devoted to Economic and Ecological Botany, x (Joliet, Ill.: Willard N. Clute & Co., 1906).