In Asian culture

Bamboo’s long life makes it a Chinese symbol of longevity, while in India it is a symbol of friendship. The rarity of its blossoming has led to the flowers’ being regarded as a sign of impending famine. This may be due to rats feeding upon the profusion of flowers, then multiplying and destroying a large part of the local food supply. The most recent flowering began in May 2006 (see Mautam). Bamboo is said to bloom in this manner only about every 50 years (see 28–60 year examples in FAO: ‘gregarious’ species table).

In Chinese culture, the bamboo, plum blossom, orchid, and chrysanthemum (often known as méi lán zhú jú 梅兰竹菊) are collectively referred to as the Four Gentlemen. These four plants also represent the four seasons and, in Confucian ideology, four aspects of the junzi (“prince” or “noble one”). The pine (sōng 松), the bamboo (zhú 竹), and the plum blossom (méi 梅) are also admired for their perseverance under harsh conditions, and are together known as the “Three Friends of Winter” (岁寒三友 suìhán sānyǒu) in Chinese culture. The “Three Friends of Winter” is traditionally used as a system of ranking in Japan, for example in sushi sets or accommodations at a traditional ryokan. Pine (matsu 松) is of the first rank, bamboo (také 竹) is of second rank, and plum (ume 梅) is of the third.

Other Uses

Bamboo has a long history of use in Asian furniture. Chinese bamboo furniture is a distinct style based on a millennia-long tradition.
Several manufacturers offer bamboo bicycles and skateboards.
Due to its flexibility, bamboo is also used to make fishing rods. The split cane rod is especially prized for fly fishing. Bamboo has been traditionally used in Malaysia as a firecracker called ameriam buluh or bamboo cannon. Four-foot-long sections of bamboo are cut, and a mixture of water and calcium carbide are introduced. The resulting acetylene gas is ignited with a stick, producing a loud bang. Bamboo can be used in water desalination. A bamboo filter is used to remove the salt from seawater.

Bamboo Displays

Bamboo has been used to make simple shelves for hundreds of years. However it has not been widely used in shop-displays until mid 2010’s.

Bamboo has enjoyed a revival in the new millennium. The bamboo bicycle for example was invented in 1895 and then largely forgotten. Until 1996 when Calfee Designmade a modern version. Calfee bikes are exhibited by using bamboo bicycle stands instead of metal ones. These stands are another example of bamboo displays.

Bamboo displays are a way for retailers to cash-in on bamboo’s current eco-friendly cachet. Notable modern bamboo displays include bamboo banner stands, and exhibition equipment.Another popular form of the bamboo display it to use a ladder and hang scarfs over each step. This same method is also used in some hotel bathrooms to hang towels.

One popular form of the modern bamboo displays are advertising banner stands. They come in many models by a range of manufacturers. Differences among the models are the way the banners are connected and various graphic sizes. Most aluminum and plastic banner stands are also available made from bamboo.

Some displays are made from natural tube and others from laminated bamboo board. An example of a bamboo displays from natural tube is the bamboo roll-up/pull-up banner stand. When not in use the graphic is rolled onto a spring-mechanism inside the banner stand. This model is of special significance because it uses the natural round and hollow shape of the bamboo. Using the natural form of the raw-material reduces processing steps. This helps lower the environmental impact of the product.

Different methods exist to make bamboo displays. Some products are made from the natural bamboo tube, while others are made from bamboo laminate board. The laminated bamboo board is very similar to the one used to make bamboo floor.

Harvesting is a very important factor. The timing and processing of bamboo is crucial to making a durable bamboo product. Generally it is best to avoid cutting bamboo during the wet season. In spring bamboo is growing fast and the water content is high. During dry season water content is lower, which decreases the risk of bamboo developing cracks after being harvested. These same rules apply to laminated board. Although laminated board is much more processed than the round sticks, it still follows the same principles. Laminated board made from bamboo cut in spring will be of inferior quality. It has an increased risk of mold and will not be as hard and durable as board made from bamboo cut in dry season.

Different methods exist to laminate the boards and the most important differences are the quality of the glue and bamboo pieces that are used to make the board. If the bamboo pieces are of inferior quality then that can result in hollow spaces in the finished board. Another important aspect of the bamboo laminate is the layers and orientation of the fibers. The processes used to make bamboo laminate boards are basically the same as when manufacturing engineered wood. In lower quality products twin layer boards are used. Higher quality products use triple layer cross-laminate boards. The main advantage of cross-laminates is their increased durability. A trip layer cross laminate board is much less likely to split, when compared to a twin layer single orientation board.

Musical Instruments

There are numerous types of bamboo flutes made all over the world, such as the dizixiaoshakuhachipalendag and jinghu. In India, it is a very popular and highly respected musical instrument, available even to the poorest and the choice of many highly venerated maestros of classical music. It is known and revered above all as the divine flute forever associated with Lord Krishna, who is always portrayed holding a bansuri in sculptures and paintings. Four of the instruments used in Polynesia for traditional hula are made of bamboo: nose flute, rattle, stamping pipes and the jaw harp. Bamboo may be used in the construction of the Australian didgeridoo instead of the more traditional eucalyptus wood. In Indonesia and the Philippines, bamboo has been used for making various kinds of musical instruments, including the kolintang,angklung and bumbong.

Bamboo is also used to make slit drums. Traditional Philippine banda kawayan (bamboo bands) use a variety of bamboo musical instruments, including the marimba,angklung, panpipes and bumbong, as well as bamboo versions of western instruments, such as clarinets, saxophones, and tubas. The Las Piñas Bamboo Organ in the Philippines has pipes made of bamboo culms. The modern amplified string instrument, the Chapman stick, is also constructed using bamboo. The khene (also spelledkhaenkaen and khen; Lao: ແຄນ, Thai: แคน) is a mouth organ of Lao origin whose pipes, which are usually made of bamboo, are connected with a small, hollowed-out hardwood reservoir into which air is blown, creating a sound similar to that of the violin. In the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, the valiha, a long tube zither made of a single bamboo stalk, is considered the national instrument.

Bamboo has also recently been used for the manufacture of guitars and ukuleles. Bamboo Ukuleles are constructed of solid cross laminated bamboo strips not plywood. The bamboo solid wood strips are similar to bamboo manufactured flooring. In addition to their strength, bamboo ukuleles have excellent sound & rival ukuleles made out of more traditional woods like Mahogany and KOA. Bamboo makes an excellent choice for an eco-friendly cost conscious ukulele aficionados.

Paper

Bamboo fiber has been used to make paper in China since early times. A high-quality, handmade paper is still produced in small quantities. Coarse bamboo paper is still used to make spirit money in many Chinese communities.

Bamboo pulps are mainly produced in China, Myanmar, Thailand and India, and are used in printing and writing papers. The most common bamboo species used for paper are Dendrocalamus asper and Bamboo bluemanea. It is also possible to make dissolving pulp from bamboo. The average fiber length is similar to hardwoods, but the properties of bamboo pulp are closer to softwoodpulps due to it having a very broad fiber length distribution. With the help of molecular tools, it is now possible to distinguish the superior fiber-yielding species/varieties even at juvenile stages of their growth, which can help in unadulterated merchandise production.

Textiles

Because the fibers of bamboo are very short (less than 3 mm), they are impossible to transform into yarn in a natural process. The usual process by which textiles labeled as being made of bamboo are produced uses only rayon made from the fibers with heavy employment of chemicals. To accomplish this, the fibers are broken down with chemicals and extruded through mechanical spinnerets; the chemicals include lye, carbon disulfide and strong acids. Retailers have sold both end products as “bamboo fabric” to cash in on bamboo’s current ecofriendly cachet; however, the Canadian Competition Bureau and the US Federal Trade Commission, as of mid-2009, are cracking down on the practice of labeling bamboo rayon as natural bamboo fabric. Under the guidelines of both agencies, these products must be labeled as rayon with the optional qualifier “from bamboo”.

Construction

In its natural form, bamboo as a construction material is traditionally associated with the cultures of South Asia, East Asia and the South Pacific, to some extent in Central and South America, and by extension in the aesthetic of Tiki culture. In China and India, bamboo was used to hold up simple suspension bridges, either by making cables of split bamboo or twisting whole culms of sufficiently pliable bamboo together. One such bridge in the area of Qian-Xian is referenced in writings dating back 960 AD, and may have stood since as far back as the third century BC, due largely to continuous maintenance.

Bamboo has also long been used as scaffolding; the practice has been banned in China for buildings over six storeys, but is still in continuous use for skyscrapers in Hong Kong. In the Philippines, the nipa hut is a fairly typical example of the most basic sort of housing where bamboo is used; the walls are split and woven bamboo, and bamboo slats and poles may be used as its support. In Japanese architecture, bamboo is used primarily as a supplemental and/or decorative element in buildings such as fencing, fountains, grates and gutters, largely due to the ready abundance of quality timber.

Various structural shapes may be made by training the bamboo to assume them as it grows. Squared sections of bamboo are created by compressing the growing stalk within a square form. Arches may similarly be created by forcing the bamboo’s growth with the desired form, and costs much less than it would to assume the same shape in regular wood timber. More traditional forming methods, such as the application of heat and pressure, may also be used to curve or flatten the cut stalks.

Bamboo can be cut and laminated into sheets and planks. This process involves cutting stalks into thin strips, planing them flat, boiling and drying the strips; they are then glued, pressed and finished. Generally long used in China and Japan, entrepreneurs started developing and selling laminated bamboo flooring in the West during the mid 1990s; products made from bamboo laminate, including flooring, cabinetry, furniture and even decorations, are currently surging in popularity, transitioning from the boutique market to mainstream providers, such as Home Depot. The bamboo goods industry (which also includes small goods, fabric, etc.) is expected to be worth $25 billion by 2012. The quality of bamboo laminate varies between manufacturers and the maturity of the plant from which it was harvested (six years being considered the optimum); the sturdiest products fulfil their claims of being up to three times harder than oak hardwood, but others may be softer than standard hardwood.

Bamboo intended for use in construction should be treated to resist insects and rot. The most common solution for this purpose is a mixture of boraxand boric acid. Another process involves boiling cut bamboo to remove the starches that attract insects.

Bamboo has been used as reinforcement for concrete in those areas where it is plentiful, though dispute exists over its effectiveness in the various studies done on the subject. Bamboo does have the necessary strength to fulfil this function, but untreated bamboo will swell from the absorption of water from the concrete, causing it to crack. Several procedures must be followed to overcome this shortcoming.

Several institutes, businesses, and universities are working on the bamboo as an ecological construction material. In the United States and France, it is possible to get houses made entirely of bamboo, which are earthquake and cyclone-resistant and internationally certified. In Bali, Indonesia, an international primary school, the Green School, is constructed entirely of bamboo, for its beauty and advantages as a sustainable resource. There are three ISO standards for bamboo as a construction material.

In parts of India, bamboo is used for drying clothes indoors, both as the rod high up near the ceiling to hang clothes on, as well as the stick wielded with acquired expert skill to hoist, spread, and to take down the clothes when dry. It is also commonly used to make ladders, which apart from their normal function, are also used for carrying bodies in funerals. In Maharashtra, the bamboo groves and forests are called VeLuvana, the name velu for bamboo is most likely from Sanskrit, while vana means forest.

Furthermore, bamboo is also used to create flagpoles for saffron-coloured, Hindu religious flags, which can be seen fluttering across India, especially Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, as well as in Guyana and Suriname.

Bamboo is used for the structural members of the India pavilion at Expo 2010 in Shanghai. The pavilion is the world’s largest bamboo dome, about 34 m in diameter, with bamboo beams/members overlaid with a ferro-concrete slab, water-proofing, copper plate, solar PV panels, a small windmill and live plants. A total of 30 km of bamboo was used. The dome is supported on 18-m-long steel piles and a series of steel ring beams. The bamboo was treated with borax and boric acid as a fire retardant and insecticide and bent in the required shape. The bamboo sections are joined with reinforcement bars and concrete mortar to achieve necessary lengths.