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Tonbyan

There was a cloth made by plant fiber called Tonbyan/Tonban (there are some slight different names). " 桐板布 " or " 桐板齊 " was assigned to the cloth in Chinese character. Even now, because specification of the material is not ended, the cloth changes into something illusivethings. New knowledges are introduced by investigation of old literatures and by researches of old clothes using microscope in this paper. To give the conclusion, there were two or more different type plant fibers called sound like "Tonbyan/ Tonban" and they were written as " 桐板 ". And Indeed, A piece of old cloth is made of a plant fiber of maguey called Tonbyan in Okinawa which is shown in this paper.

Getting fibers

An easy acquisition method for agave fiber
Okinawa international university
Prof. Mitsukuni MATAYOSHI
June,2018

 A fiber taking from agave called Tonbyan in Okinawa dialect has such a gross of silk and the color is white. The traditional fiber acquisition methods from agave are very interesting. To take out fibers, bury the leaves of agave deep in sandy beaches around one month or ditch mud until nice timing are the ways based on tradition. When we take out fibers from agave, we have to make the leaves decay. Then, the decomposing matter stinks very much. The smell stinks as if excrement and urine. And what is worse, the stink survives on the skin for a while, and can’t be removed by any kind of soap. Indeed, the way for acquisition fibers of agave become disused. It takes time around 10 days for natural healing.
 As my personal experience during looking for how to take out the fiber, the juice of mesophyll gives intolerable itch and rashes which were so terrible things. It takes around 10 days to heal naturally. Nobody wants to acquire it spontaneously.
 This short report gives a new way to take out fiber from agave leave that is derived from my experience. And I hope that traditional crafts including Tonbyan cloth called phantom cloth made of fiber of Agave will come out based on my report by KAKEN(16502101) research.

  Below mentioned method is very simple but practical level. I hope that dyeing and weaving artisan and traditional craftsmans use the proposed approach and make some products such as cloth, survivors. 
  Here is the abstract my scholarly treatise. Further details are explained in the text of the paper. 

Tonbyan leaf

Tonbyan leaf
7th Jun, 2PM
 3rd Jun, 2018. Unwrap a package of an Agave leaf which was taken in Ishigaki island on 3rd Jun. There are some bended parts but it looks like no problem.
 The entire length is around 120cm. The leaf is taken from a nearby root and an old big leaf. I think that the fiber of an old leaf may be transparent which is the reason why I took an old leaf. A few years ago, Mr. Sakihara who is the director of Nanto minzoku shiryou kan gave me fibers from taking out a young agave leaf which color is milky white. I assumed that the old leaf’s fiber is translucent fiber. Because in some oral tradition, the fiber of Tonbyan has translucency (As a result, I knew the assumption is not correct, and an old leaf has thick fibers).
The prickles are so sharp. We need to take care of it. We can see thick fibers in the cut end.

Tear Up

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7th Jun, 2PM

 To try a new contrived approach, as a pre-processing, tear up the leaf in a vertical direction along fiber’s length direction. It is so easy from the small cut of leaf apex or the cut end.

 The pictures show that the fibers came out.

Bind

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7th Jun, 3PM

 Teared up leaves are bound by cord.
 I assume that the process of decay will be accelerated by using teared leaves. The decay process will start from the splits. The leaf is covered with like a vinyl which prevents and protects from decay.
 Here, I felt a strong itch on my uncovered skin such as arms back on hands, and knees. (I recognized that it was caused by the juice of mesophyll later. I treated the leaves defenseless state against scattering spray)

Dipping

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7th Jun, 3PM

 Run water into a rectangular plastic container and set bundled teared leaves.
 Here, the itch was becoming terrible and was not removed by water. So I took a hot shower for a while to open the sweat glands for sweating containing poison. After that, the itch was backed off a bit.

Leftovers

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7th Jun.
 When I was tearing agave leave, some agave fibers were gotten, and I left them for a while to follow-up.
 
 As a result, the color of the mesophyll and the fiber turned into brawn.

Overnight

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8th June, 4PM
 More clouded water. No smell.

 To accelerate fermentation, add two spoonfuls of yoghurt and stirred to make finer. The smell is bittersweet which comes from yoghurt.

Decaying

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8th June, 4PM
 More clouded water. No smell.

 To accelerate fermentation, add two spoonfuls of yoghurt and stirred to make finer. The smell is bittersweet which comes from yoghurt.

Yoghurt

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9th June, 10AM
 The water became more clouded and smelled of yoghurt scent, and no bad smell. We can see some clean translucent fibers came out with fermentation.
 The mesophyll was decomposed by microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria of yoghurt. Prof. Ginko has reported that the acquisition process in China uses cow dung. The color of China grass is semi transparent. I was looking forward to seeing it. But as a result, the fiber color of agave is milky white.

Stink

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10th June, 11AM
 It is getting more clouded. The color of immersion liquid became a light green color. The smell has a yoghurt scent with little bit feces and urine stink.

Because the root of leaves is thick, so that every root part has not decayed yet.

Integuments

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10th June, 11AM
 The integuments have never decayed. We need a preprocessing to remove the integument in order to accelerate decay.

 You can see my hand without a glove. Consequently, Terrible odious smell sticks to my hand and fingers firmly. Soap and rubbing alcohol are useless. Waterproof glove is a mandatory item.

The power of Yoghurt

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11th June, 9AM
It is getting more clouded. The color of immersion liquid became a light green color. The smell has more yoghurt scent without feces and urine stink because I added yoghurt the day before. Yoghurt prevents it from stinking. Yoghurt should be added more.


 After this day, yoghurt and water are added on occasion. The immersion liquid is stirred because we do not know which bacteria, anaerobic or aerobic bacteria, makes bad smell. After that, the bad smell changed into good smell like cheese.

Fibers

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12th June, 8AM
 The fibers around the root start separating by decay.
 We can see thin fibers and thick fibers. Fibers in green mesophyll are very thin. On the other hand, inside fibers seem thick and white.

Fibers

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12th June, 8AM
 I felt a very slight stink when I opened the box. It smelled like cheese when I approached my face towards the immersion liquid.
 The decay velocity of around epidermis is very slow by integument like vinyl. On the other hand, exposed mesophyll is decayed so fast and the fibers are separated.

Mesophylls

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14th June, 8AM
 Most mesophylls are decayed and removed. A small amount of decayed mesophyll are still surviving which is able to be collapsed by finger pressure easily. I squeezed the surviving mesophyll and removed it.
 The head part of the leaf with an integument like vinyl was never decayed in 10 days. Apparently, this part is still alive. To remove integument or to cut slits into integument is very important preprocessing to get fibers smoothly.

Get fibers

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15th June, 8AM
 The weight is very light in comparison with the weight in the day before. Most of the remaining material is fiber. Finger pressure brought good results. To get fibers, we need one day.
 
 The color of fiber is white with transparency. It is very clear that It is sure that a lot of good fibers would be obtained. Presumptively, a large agave leaf brings 10 to 15 times fibers of China grass stem.

Integuments

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15th June, 10AM
 Take the remaining materials out. The smell is like cheese but there is no problem.
 The integuments like vinyl and green parts remained. These integuments should be removed before sinking. Maybe, we can remove the integument by hot water. But I have not tried yet.

On 4th Nov., 2020. I successfully removed the integuments by peeler.

Integuments

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16th June, 11AM

 Remove the integuments. It requires patience.
 The integument becomes brittle, and twists around and sticks to fibers.

Fibers

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16th June, 11AM

 After removing unnecessary materials, we can get the fibers.

Bleach

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16th June, 11AM

 Bleach the fibers by hot sodium hydroxide solution to take off chlorophyll.

 I realized that I need to gain more experience in the future about the concentration of sodium hydroxide solution. Strong concentration makes fiber weaken.

 I have been concerned about thin fiber in green integument. The very thin fiber should be removed by preprocessing. The thin fiber twists around thick fiber.

Tonbyan Fibers

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16th June, 11AM
After breach, little bit light yellow white fibers are obtained.
I knew how to take agave fiber out in this experience.
 An easy acquisition method for agave fiber:
(1) Take off prickles
(2) Tear up the leaf in a vertical direction along fiber’s length direction.
(3) Remove green integument.
(4) Treat green integument and white mesophyll separately. (we can get string by twisting the green integument, but it requires time and effort.
(5) Turn up the edges of the teared leaves to make it easy.
(6) Drip the leaves in the water with enough yoghurt. The stink such as malodor of excretions changes into cheese smell because of the micro-organism function in yoghurt. Stealing is required for activating anaerobic or aerobic bacteria which prevent them from coming out very strong and terribly stink.

Caution

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8th June, morning
 Rashes appear on the itched spots. But no itch. So, I did not use ointment.
Around 4PM, I found that blisters appear on each rash and give a strong itch when I touch it.
Mr. Uesedo, who is a director of private museum KIHOIN in Taketomi island, told me that Tonbyan has poison and we never give Tonbyan to farm animals such as goats. And Mr. Sakihara, who is a director of private museum NANTO-MINZOKU-SHIRYOUKAN, told me that he got a strong itch when he was taking the fibers out. I felt itchy until 13th June. The itched spots disappeared on my skin around 10 days later.