Kapok - The Tree of Life

By Julie Jarvis
Posted in REALthings Meditation Blog, on April 30, 2014

Traditionally zafus were stuffed with kapok. More recently people have been using other fibres - cotton, polyester, foam and buckwheat hulls. We love the traditional kapok cushions. However, we find that most people in North America and many other parts of the world prefer zafus stuffed with buckwheat hulls because they are more malleable (more about buckwheat hulls soon).

Kapok trees are found in rain forests all over the world. In the Mayan Tradition, the Kapok Tree is 'the Tree of Life' and it is magnificent. Growing to heights of 60-70 m (200-250 ft.).

 

Kapok comes from the pods on the tree. It is an exquisite silky cotton fibre that is difficult to spin so it is used for used mostly for stuffing. Years ago it was a popular stuffing for mattresses, pillows, sofas, life jackets and zafus.

 

 

One of the challenges working with kapok is that the very fine light fibres blow everywhere and stick to everything. So when we are stuffing or separating seeds from the fibres we have to work outside and everyone needs to be completely covered and use masks.

We would also like to source it directly from indigenous peoples in the rain forest who harvest the kapok as a way to preserve the forests and sustain their communities. If you know anyone who is doing this, please let us know!

 

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All REALthings cushions are designed by the founder, Julie Jarvis, in collaboration with local designers Jan Mackie and Dolma Tsering in Toronto, Canada

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