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The World of Bamboo

The World of Bamboo
Did you know that bamboo has been on people’s minds for over ten thousand years?
To put this into perspective: it’s only been for the last two thousand years since the
Holy Bible is playing an important role in our lives. This statement is in no way intended
to insult and to claim that bamboo is as much as five times as important as the Bible.
However, admittedly, here at the Bamboovement we do worship it more thoroughly.
Let’s forget about the value we address to bamboo for a second. It’s likely to assume that, until
recently, it was often only considered as being just a (beautiful) plant. Especially in the Western
world. However, the current tendency of shifting towards more sustainability might have
changed this perspective a bit. As it became more generally known that many different types
of products can be made out of bamboo, a certain material value was added to this plant(het
is eigenlijk een grassoort geloof ik, ook al wordt het vaak als plant beschreven, misschien goed
om dat hier te vermelden?).
Bamboo’s significance in the West in no way resembles the one in the East. As bamboo
represents a symbol of fertility, long life, and immortality in eastern Asia, it shouldn’t be too
surprising that this magical plant appears in many myths and tales. Given the large differences
around the globe with respect to its attributed value, this article covers some of the most
extraordinary tales you’ve probably never heard of. You’ll be guided through several lovely
stories that reveal bamboo’s importance for the animal world, its relevance to music, and its
versatility for humans. Mooie intro hoor! Niks op aan te merken 😊
“Afbeelding bamboo plant”
A life-giver and evolver
Let’s begin with one of bamboo’s most essential purposes. As it proves to be an important food
source for animals?, it fulfils a basic and vital need in both the human and the animal world.
Humans don’t really rely on bamboo as there are tons of different options for our diet. In turn,
a variety of animals depend almost completely on bamboo and that’s why the focus is put on
bamboo’s importance to animals.
To state the obvious, the giant panda and the red panda love to eat bamboo, but so do bamboo
lemurs and bamboo rats. Their diets consist almost solely of bamboo. Other animals that love
eating bamboo are the mountain gorilla, chimpanzees, and elephants. You might think you
know a thing or two about the fluffy giant and red panda, as did we. But when we explored the
panda-bamboo relationship we encountered some very surprising details that we want to share
with you.
“foto red panda & giant panda”
As several recent articles revealed, the giant and the red panda are only very distantly related
to each other. It turned out that their common ancestor lived over 40 million years ago.
However, as their forebear belonged? to the Carnivora family, both the giant and the red
panda share this classification. To back this up, both have some typical carnivore
characteristics, like a carnivore digestive system, sharp teeth to rip open the flesh of their prey,
and a heightenedsense of smell. Yet, only the red panda eats insects, eggs, and small animals
occasionally. In turn, bamboo makes up for the lion’s share of their diet. They might spend up
to half the day searching for it. Giant pandas seem to be on a whole other level. As it makes
up for 90-98% of its diet, they spend 16 hours per day eating bamboo. That is as much as you
and me are awake daily!
A question arises. “How can it be that both (carnivore) animals are craving bamboo so
intensely?” It appears that their diets shifted to bamboo millions of years ago. As bamboo is
very protein-rich, it turned out to be a worthy substitute for the regular carnivore nourishment.
One might therefore conclude that it serves a potential for carnivore animals to become
vegetarian. Moreover, despite the fact that these two pandas are only very distantly related,
their bamboo diet has made them slightly more alike over time. Both species have evolved
stronger jaws to chew the tough bamboo comfortably but even more striking is the fact that
both have evolved something like a sixth finger. This “pseudo thumb”, as it is being called,
allows them to grip and control the bamboo with impressive dexterity.Bamboo clearly is a
mayor part of a panda’s life. If it isn’t for the pandas searching for the best leaves for over half
of their lifetime, it is for bamboo that has changed the pandas’ lifestyle and their physical build.
The natural interaction between the panda and bamboo is something truly unbelievable.
“foto panda hand?”
A hollow, musical, and mythical stick
The second highlighted purpose of bamboo is one that is indispensable of traditional rites and
one that brings people joy. Because of its pure hollow form, it’s the perfect tool to make musical
instruments. Bamboo is clearly very suitable for making flutes, but it’s also being used to make
a variety of percussion instruments, and more recently even, guitars and ukuleles. As bamboo
is completely natural, even people on the most isolated islands can use bamboo to create
instruments as long as the plant itself is growing somewhere nearby.
“foto bamboo instrument”
For instance in Polynesia, a traditional dance called Hula is accompanied by music that’s partly
played on bamboo instruments. The nose flute, rattle, stamping pipes and jaw harp they use
are all cut from bamboo sticks. The national instrument of Madagascar, the Valiha, was
traditionally made from local bamboo. Indonesia and the Philippines have several ancient
instruments, like the traditional Kulintang and the Angklung, made from bamboo. For
thousands of years, the Peruvians have used it to create their Antara, a native instrument
consisting of a row of tubes in different sizes also known as the pan flute. The Australian
didgeridoo is made from eucalyptus normally but bamboo does the job as well. According to
Chinese mythology, by tuning bamboo pipes to bird sounds, the mythical Ling Lun (wat is de
Ling Lun, misschien even heel kort tussen haakjes uitleggen?) became the legendary founder
of music. Bamboo is also a common material to create an instrument that doesn’t require a
musician to produce music: wind chimes.
In some countries the meaning of a bamboo instrument has become rather mythological. A
striking example comes from India. The Supreme God’s, Lord Krishna, most important attribute
is a bamboo flute. In almost all paintings and statues that display the god of compassion,
tenderness, and love, he plays his Bansuri. The reason why Lord Krishna’s flute is a bamboo
one tells a story emphasizing the importance of humility and patience in life.
A multifunctional super source
To finish off this article, we take a look at bamboo’s multifunctionality with regard to more recent
human craft. In some places it’s hard to get your hands on different kind of materials.
Therefore, people have to be creative to make durable objects and products. Generally, we
see that natural resources are used very often in places alike, and as it turns out, bamboo
serves this purpose perfectly.
Bamboo is widely used on in? construction sites, both as a building material as well as a tool
to build safely. To illustrate, bamboo reinforced concrete is used to repair damaged roads in
India. Bamboo bridges allow people, and sometimes even cars and trucks, to cross water all
around the world. On top of being a travelling facilitator, it also facilitates housing. It is said that
hundreds of millions of people are living in bamboo houses. In Colombia, for example, bamboo
is used as a building material instead of concrete in earthquake zones because it bends with
the tremor and does not collapse. And lastly, for those among us that have never seen one
with their own eyes, bamboo scaffoldings will blow your mind.
“picture bamboo houses/ bamboo bridge”
Next to these stunning purposes, it’s also perfectly suited for making clothes, furniture, diapers
and even beer. There’s an uncountable amount of more uses to this amazingly multifunctional
and natural material. As long as it is being taken from the forest in a responsible manner, it is
sustainable by all means.
“picture bamboo products”