Weave a Bajau Mat

Bajau Mat (7).JPG

This interesting craft idea from Travis’s Welcome issue of Highlights magazine not only teaches a little about an interesting culture, but was also Travis’s first introduction to weaving. Although a bit advanced for him, it was a neat activity to work through together.

For a little background on the mat, it’s technically called a banig, a mat woven from plant leaves by the Bajau people, who live in Southeast Asia. Traditionally, they have lived in wooden houses on stilts above the sea, and so the zigzag pattern on the mats resembles ocean waves. Neat! We wanted a turn.

Instead of leaves, you’ll be using poster board and cardstock. Highlights recommended using a full 11×22-inch piece of poster board, but I knew that would be too big a canvas for Travis’s attention span.

Bajau Mat (1)

Instead we cut a piece of poster board to about half that, at 10×11-inches. He liked doing the measuring!

Bajau Mat (2)

Cut the poster board into strips about 1/2-inch wide, leaving a border about 1 inch long at the top. Great scissor practice.

Bajau Mat (5)

Now fold two sheets of colored cardstock in half, and then in half again. Travis was my expert creaser.

Bajau Mat (3)

Cut these cardstock pages on the diagonal into strips, then unfold; you’ll now have a zigzag.

Bajau Mat (4)

Working with one strip at a time, weave into the poster board, alternating under and over. Push the first zigzag up to the top, then repeat with the remaining strips. Travis did tire out, but watched as I finished up the weaving.

Bajau Mat (6)

Cover the edges of the mat with duct tape to secure and voila! A beautiful homemade mat. Ours was too small to really be a floor covering, of course, but it quickly became a prop for Travis’s action figures in his games.