Bamboo was used by humans for various purposes at a very early time. Categories of Bambooworking include:
Further information: Bamboo construction
house from Bambou Habitat
House made entirely of bamboo
Bamboo has long been used as an assembly material in Hong Kong because of its versatility
Bamboo scaffolding can reach great heights
Workers on bamboo scaffolding
Bamboo, like true wood, is a natural composite material with a high strength-to-weight ratio useful for structures.
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 to 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 stories, 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 into the desired form, costing much less than it would to obtain the same shape with regular wood timber. More conventional 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, and boiling and drying the strips; they are then glued, pressed, and finished. 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.[needs update] The quality of bamboo laminate varies among manufacturers and varies according to the maturity of the plant from which it was harvested (six years being considered the optimum); the sturdiest products fulfill their claims of being up to three times as hard as oak hardwood while 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 borax and boric acid. Another process involves boiling cut bamboo to remove the starches that attract insects.
Bamboo pavilion in the Shenzhen Biennale
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 with water absorbed from the concrete, causing it to crack. Several procedures must be followed to overcome this shortcoming.
Several institutes, businesses, and universities are researching the use of 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. Three ISO standards are given for bamboo as a construction material.
In parts of India, bamboo is used for drying clothes indoors, both as a rod high up near the ceiling to hang clothes on, and as a 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 in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, as well as in Guyana and Suriname in South America.
Bamboo was 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 (112 ft) in diameter, with bamboo beams/members overlaid with a ferro-concrete slab, waterproofing, copper plate, solar PV panels, a small windmill, and live plants. A total of 30 km (19 mi) 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 were joined with reinforcement bars and concrete mortar to achieve the necessary lengths.
Main article: Bamboo textiles
Since the fibers of bamboo are very short (less than 3 mm (0.12 in)), they are not usually transformed into yarn by 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”.
As a writing surface
Further information: Bamboo and wooden slips
Bamboo was in widespread use in early China as a medium for written documents. The earliest surviving examples of such documents, written in ink on string-bound bundles of bamboo strips (or “slips”), date from the 5th century BC during the Warring States period. However, references in earlier texts surviving on other media make it clear that some precursor of these Warring States period bamboo slips was in use as early as the late Shang period (from about 1250 BC).
Bamboo or wooden strips were the standard writing material during the early Han dynasty, and excavated examples have been found in abundance. Subsequently, paper began to displace bamboo and wooden strips from mainstream uses, and by the 4th century AD, bamboo slips had been largely abandoned as a medium for writing in China.
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. Several paper industries are surviving on bamboo forests. Ballarpur (Chandrapur, Maharstra) paper mills use bamboo for paper production. The most common bamboo species used for paper are Dendrocalamus asper and Bambusa blumeana. 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 softwood pulps 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.
Bamboo has often been used to construct weapons and is still incorporated in several Asian martial arts.
A bamboo staff, sometimes with one end sharpened, is used in the Tamil martial art of silambam, a word derived from a term meaning “hill bamboo”.
Staves used in the Indian martial art of gatka are commonly made from bamboo, a material favoured for its light weight.
A bamboo sword called a shinai is used in the Japanese martial art of kendo.
Bamboo is used for crafting the bows, called yumi, and arrows used in the Japanese martial art kyudo.
Bamboo is sometimes used to craft the limbs of the longbow and recurve bow used in traditional archery, and to make superior weapons for bowhunting and target archery.
The first gunpowder-based weapons, such as the fire lance, were made of bamboo.
Bamboo was apparently used in East and South Asia as a means of torture.
Main article: Bamboo musical instruments
Bamboo is extensively used for fishing and aquaculture applications on the Dayu Bay in Cangnan County, Zhejiang
Bamboo is used for mussels breeding and propagation (Abucay, Bataan, Philippines).
Bamboo has traditionally been used to make a wide range of everyday utensils and cutting boards, particularly in Japan, where archaeological excavations have uncovered bamboo baskets dating to the Late Jōmon period (2000–1000 BC).
Bamboo has a long history of use in Asian furniture. Chinese bamboo furniture is a distinct style based on a millennia-long tradition, and bamboo is also used for floors due to its high hardness.
Several manufacturers offer bamboo bicycles, surfboards, snowboards, 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 a meriam 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[dubious – discuss].
Many ethnic groups in remote areas that have water access in Asia use bamboo that is 3–5 years old to make rafts. They use 8 to 12 poles, 6–7 m (20–23 ft) long, laid together side by side to a width of about 1 m (3.3 ft). Once the poles are lined up together, they cut a hole crosswise through the poles at each end and use a small bamboo pole pushed through that hole like a screw to hold all the long bamboo poles together. Floating houses use whole bamboo stalks tied together in a big bunch to support the house floating in the water. Bamboo is also used to make eating utensils such as chopsticks, trays, and tea scoops.
The Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD) Chinese scientist and polymath Shen Kuo (1031–1095) used the evidence of underground petrified bamboo found in the dry northern climate of Yan’an, Shanbei region, Shaanxi province to support his geological theory of gradual climate change.