Coconut handicrafts

Throughout the settled history of the Chagos islands, coconut plantations were the economic base and main source of employment. Chagos islanders had many uses for the different parts of the coconut plant: dried coconut flesh can be pressed to produce coconut oil, and the remaining fibrous copra meal can be fed to animals; coconut shells can be heated and used for ironing; coconut husks can be burned as cooking fuel, and the ashes can be mixed with coconut oil to produce soap; fibrous coir from the husks can be pressed into mattresses and pillows or twisted into rope; and the leafy fronds can be woven into brooms, bags, baskets, and thatched roofs. This exhibit features workshops in Mauritius during which Chagos islanders demonstrated how to twist rope out of coconut fibres and how to weave baskets and make whistles out of coconut fronds.