The rope maker: an ancient manual craft
In the Latomie, the Cordari (rope makers) of Syracuse carried out a craft deeply rooted in Sicilian culture: they made rope by working vegetable fibres with their hands.
The work of the rope maker was silent and repetitive, using always the same gestures, the same steps back and forth from dawn to dusk.
Using their thumb and index finger, the rope makers unravelled, stretched and spun fibres to form the base cord.
Commonly used vegetable fibres were hemp, coconut and American aloe; the latter, very rough by nature, was used for the bottom of chairs. Coconut, a soft and porous fibrous mass, was used for the most robust and water-resistant ropes.
Hemp, or cannu in Sicilian, was the most prized fibre and intensively cultivated in the local countryside.