Coir matting may not seem like a very interesting product, however, it has a lot of history and has been a popular flooring solution for centuries! The coir mats which we know today have a history and origin that is deeply rooted in South Asian culture, with coir products dating back to the 3rd century B.C. In this blog post, we are going to take a closer look at the history of coir mats, from their humble beginnings to the modern-day flooring solution that they are today.

The Origins of Coir

As you might be aware, coir derives from the coconut palm tree and is also known as coco coir. Coconut trees have been cultivated for hundreds of years, with coir fibres used as a renewable and biodegradable resource for a variety of products such as ropes, mats, and tools.

The very first instance of coconut was mentioned in the Ramayana period, within the Valmiki Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic, which is amongst the largest literary works in the world and is central to Indian culture. The reference to coconut within this Indian poem indicates that coconuts may have been introduced during the post-Vedic period in India. Across India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, coconuts have been a staple crop, with the fibres being used to create many functional products.

After this period, there are many other occurrences of coconut being used:

  • A Greek sailor wrote about coir being used for the boats in an East African village in the first century of A.D.
  • Within the 11th Century AD, Arab writers mentioned the use of coir for boat ropes and fenders.
  • The famous Italian explorer, Marco Polo, reported the use of the ‘Indian Nut’ in the 13th
  • Polynesians refer to the coconut palm tree as the ‘Tree of Life’, with early Hawaiian settlers using the natural fibre for canoes, tools, and building materials.
  • At the beginning of the 19th century, coir started being used in fabrics and floor coverings, with the UK starting to sell the material commercially.
  • Treloar and Sons in Ludgate Hill opened in London in the 1840s, as a coconut fibre warehouse.
  • The first coir factory originated in Alleppey City in Kerala, Darragh Smail & Co, which was established in 1859. This factory produced coir mat products and floor furnishings. Following this, another 25 coir factories were opened up in the city.

Evolution of Coir Mats

Over time, the use of coir mats evolved from simple woven mats to more complex designs that included intricate patterns and motifs. Not only were coir flooring products used for functional purposes but for decorative ones too. With this change, natural dyes and pigments were introduced to create mats which were also beautiful and stylish. Coir mats became an integral part of South Asian culture and traditions, which soon spread across the rest of the world.

Today, coir matting is used widely across the globe, with advancements in technology and the manufacturing process that makes coir products a lot more versatile. Now, coir mats are available in a variety of sizes, designs, and colours, catering for both homes and businesses and offering a natural and eco-friendly flooring solution.

Has the Manufacturing Process Changed?

Traditionally, coir was processed by hand, with many regions in India still using this method. The coconuts were harvested before they were ripe, where they were de-husked and left to soak in either a salt or freshwater bath for around 10 months. This process is known as ‘retting’, which is a process of removing the fibres from the husk. Once they have been soaked, the husk is beaten to produce usable coir fibres. These fibres are then spun onto a coir ‘Ratt’ which is a traditional spinning wheel that turns the fibres into yarn.

Nowadays, with modern-day technology and machines, producing coir products has become a lot easier and more efficient. The biggest difference is that we now have a variety of mechanical rotating drums, that beat up the coir and separates the fibres into different lengths. This advancement makes the manufacturing process of coir products quicker, supplying a wide range of industries and satisfying the increase in consumer demand.

Here at Commercial Matting, we have followed the history of coir and have become experts ourselves, providing high-quality, traditional coir matting for a range of sectors. Whether you need floor protection within your school, office, hotel, or reception area, our extensive range of coir products will ensure your interiors remain clean and dry. We manufacture our mats in a variety of colours, sizes, and thicknesses to suit a range of environments. Additionally, all of our coir mats are backed with PVC for slip resistance, making them a safe and reliable matting solution.

Please feel free to browse our online product catalogue today or if you have any questions, contact us today on 01772 330051 or email [email protected], and we will be more than happy to help!