Bamboo in China and how it has shaped Chinese culture
Chinese people love bamboo and giant Pandas love bamboo even more, how important is bamboo in China? Bamboo is famous for being part of a Chinese diet and 99% of a giant Panda’s staple diet. For Chinese people, bamboo is a symbol of virtue and it reflects people emotion and soul, bamboo culture has a long history in China. The Chinese symbol for bamboo is 竹 and pronounced as “zhu”.
Where is it produced?
Does bamboo grow in China? Yes it does, China produces the most bamboo in the world and is known as the Kingdom of Bamboo. There over 400 different species of bamboo in China and that is a third of all the known types of bamboo in the world. The largest area in China for planted bamboo is in the south of the country along the Yangtze River area and this part of China is a popular tourist destination. The plant is produced in South China in these regions, Sichuan, Anhui, Chongqing, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Hunan, Fujian, Jiangxi and the autonomous region of Guangxi Zhuang.
History of bamboo in China
Bamboo use in China can be traced back 7,000 years to the Shang dynasty from 16th to 11th centuries BC. The plant was used for food, housing, clothing, weapons, transport and musical instruments, bamboo was used as part of everyday life for Chinese people in ancient times. Bamboo was used for writing before paper was invented, in fact China’s first books were written on bamboo strips that were strung on string. Bamboo was the most used material, more so than silk, rocks and animal furs. If it was not for bamboo we would not have those early pieces of Chinese written history to study today and have those records of early Chinese traditions. Paper was first invented in China during the Han dynasty, 25 to 220 AD by Cai Lun in 105 AD. Bamboo fibers were mixed with mulberry tree pulp, water was added and then strained to produce the first paper.
Bamboo in China is seen as being a symbol of virtue and is related to positive spirits in people, a true gentleman’s plant. A famous poem by Bai Juyi of the Tang dynasty summarizes the merits of bamboo, the deep root of bamboo denotes resoluteness, the stem represents honor, the interior equals modesty and the clean exterior models chastity. Bamboo in China and Chinese culture exemplifies a positive role and encourages people to face tough situations with resoluteness.
Products made from Chinese bamboo
One of the most famous products made from Chinese bamboo is the Dizzi a bamboo flute and almost all the instruments in ancient China were made from bamboo. There are so many products made from the wonderful resourceful plant that include, house, boats, chopsticks, plates, chopping boards, furniture, cooking utensils, medicine, bedding and fishing rods.
Another use for bamboo in China is for food! Bamboo shoots can make for delicious and tasty meals when stir fried, when other ingredients are added these will be highly nutritious meals. Some types of bamboo leaves are used for preparation of bamboo leaf tea.
It’s not just in ancient times that bamboo was used. In modern day China, many people sleep on bamboo mats, this is because of bamboo’s natural way of cooling you down when it’s hot and keeping you warm when it’s cold. Bamboo is used in many neighborhoods for fencing or scaffolding, to keep the workers safe, a net is provided between the scaffolds.
Chinese bamboo art
Bamboo art is very popular in China both in ancient and modern times, Chinese culture reveres bamboo for its beauty and virtue. The most common types of art in China are mountain backgrounds, water, plum trees and featuring bamboo. Chinese proverb calligraphy scrolls are very popular that feature hand painted bamboo plants or backgrounds. Bamboo paintings usually have a poem that accompanies the painting and using bamboo to paint on means that it will last for a long time without breaking.
Summary of bamboo in China
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