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a method of manually joining strips of flexible material (threads, stalks, twigs, bast) by passing each of the strips over and then under the others at a right or oblique angle.
The plaiting of cord, mats, baskets, creels, and snares was known as far back as the Neolithic. Many peoples constructed walls for dwellings and farm buildings by means of plaiting. Its use was developed extensively by the peoples of Australia and Africa and by the Indians of North and South America. These peoples made such items as mats, cloaks, hats, footwear, various utensils, fishing gear, and thongs for lassos. The use of plaiting was particularly widespread in Oceania, where the people plaited utensils (vessels) and seafaring equipment (sails). With great skill, they also plaited belts, fans, bags, and armor. In those regions of the world where animal fur and hide were used for clothing, plaiting played a secondary role. However, the Eskimo and the Aleuts skillfully plaited vessels, hats, and mats, using primarily seaweed stalks.
The refinement of plaiting techniques led to weaving. The procedure has remained primarily a manual form of production. In modern mechanized textile manufacturing, mainly braids and laces are produced by plaiting.