Jump to: navigation, search
MFA Acc. #: 17.2239a-b


Any several succulent plants (family Agavaceae) native to the western hemisphere. Agave plants have with long, fleshy leaves that are grown out from a central base. Flowers are produced from a tall bentral stalk. Hard, strong fibers obtained from several species of agave plants that grow abundantly in Mexico. The thick rigid leaves are cut, boiled and scraped to produce clean, long fibers. The various species of agave produce sisal, cantala, henequen, and istle fibers. They are used in rope, cordage and sacking but are not as strong or as water-resistant as hemp. Examples are:

- sisal (A.sisalana formerly A. rigida)

- cantala (A.cantala)

- henequen (A.fourcroydes)

- istle (A.funkiana and A. lophantha)

- letona (A. letonae)

- American hemp (A. americana)

- false sisal hemp (A. decipiens)

MFA Acc. #: 44.802

Synonyms and Related Terms

sisal (A.sisalana); cantala (A.cantala); henequen (A.fourcroydes); istle (A.funkiana and A. lophantha); aloe; American hemp (A. americana); false sisal hemp (A. decipiens); letona (A. letonae); agave fibers; agave fibres (Br.); Agaven (Deut.); agawa (Pol.); sisal (Esp. Fr.); ; Sisalhennep (Ned);

Additional Images

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • F. Kidd, Brushmaking Materials, Bristish Brush Manufacturers, London, 1957
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 728
  • Fairchild's Dictionary of Textiles, Phyllis G.Tortora, Robert S. Merkel (eds.), Fairchild Publications, New York City, 7th edition, 1996