If bamboo and all things made of bamboo were suddenly transposed out of China, the whole social order would be disrupted and the people would become entirely disorganized or reduced to a state of savagery and miserable dependence. There is no doubt that bamboo is the great provider of China. No other plant has ever been put to such general use, or has been so closely associated with a people in so many of the intimate details of their daily life. It is of such common occurrence that very few people take any notice of it at all. It is taken for granted like so many other things that daily strike the eye.
To realize how fully bamboo answers the many simple needs of the Chinese farmer we have only to read Dr. B. C. Henry's concise summary:
"The multiform uses of this wonderful plant are amazing. Houses may be built of it, the heavier trees standing as pillars, and making good rafters; the split canes in broad sheets woven with wattles form the sides, or cut into halves make the floors; the door of the same material, fastened with bamboo thongs, and locked with a peculiar bolt of the same wood; while the roof is composed of bamboo-thatch, which is perfectly impervious. The furniture in the form of stools, chairs, tables, couches, pillow, is all of bamboo, while cups, water-pails, ladles to dip out the rice, and wrappings for cakes of various kinds are of the same material. The fuel for the clay furnace, and the young sprouts stewing in the pot, are from the same root. The mats to sleep upon, the lattice that forms the windows, the ladder to ascend to the loft, lamps to light the room, the lanterns to hang outside the door are all of bamboo."
Bamboo poles and laths furnish the framework and main part of a great many different kinds of buildings, from simple shelters, sheds, pavilions, temporary living quarters, and contractors offices to garages, city watch-towers, theatres, summer houses, and permanent homes. The annual flower shows in Shanghai are held under great exhibition sheds built very cleverly so look like public buildings. They are built in a week; they are taken down in less than .a week. Not a single nail is used. The poles are tied with bamboo strips taken from the outer i/8". The temporary dressing rooms for the numerous tennis courts on the Shanghai Race Course constitute a veritable colony of bamboo houses, all built more or less on the same plan with mat roof and peaked corners. Even the grandstands around the base- ball field used to be made of bamboo materials. In putting up modern structures of brick, steel, and concrete, bamboo is of inestimable value as scaffolding. The whole face of a new building is hidden behind a meshwork of bamboo poles and woven lath until completed. The usual farmer's house in the Yangtse valley and south is built with a simple gable roof thatched with rice straw. The framework is of bamboo poles; the sides of woven bamboo lath plastered with mud and whitewashed. The roof beams are bamboo poles interspersed with smaller bamboo canes on which are tied split bamboo mats. These are made to overlap like the scales of a fish or like shingles on the roof of a foreign house, and form the foundation for the thatch. The door is also of woven bamboo lath swung on wire hinges, sometimes bamboo thongs.
A shed 10 by 15 by 10 ft. with thatched roof and double door at one end (see figure) suitable for a small temporary garage costs $32.00. It can be put up in four days with no plan to begin with other than the estimated number of bamboo poles from which to get the framework supports, the woven lath sides, and the close woven door panelling. A bundle of about 48 small bamboo canes and the requisite number of bundles of thatch straw may be included with the raw materials on hand. The whole job can be done by three men and an apprentice. In Yunnan, Milne and Cochrane say, the Shans construct houses of bamboos which are soaked for weeks to harden them and prevent the attacks of boring insects. For an ordinary house, they go on to say, sixty to seventy large bamboos and a hundred small stems are required, costing from £6 to £10.
With buildings may be considered bridges. When not made of stone the bridges that span the canals are often made of bamboo! The most efficient type of bamboo bridge, however, is the suspension bridge. The most famous one of this kind in China is the An-lan Chiao over the Min River on the road between Kuan Hsien and Monkong Ting in Szechwan Province. It is best described in the words of Mr. Ernest Henry Wilson:
"This most remarkable structure is about 250 yards long, 9 feet wide, built entirely of bamboo cables resting on seven supports fixed equidistant in the bed of the stream, the central one only being of stone. The floor of the bridge rests across ten bamboo cables, each 21 inches in circumference, made of bamboo, split and twisted together. Five similar cables on each side form the 'rails'. The cables are fastened to huge capstans, embedded in masonry, which are revolved by means of spars and keep the cables taut. The floor of the bridge is of planking held down by bamboo rope on either side. Lateral strands of bamboo keep the various cables in place, and wooden pegs driven through poles of hard wood assist in keeping the floor of the bridge in position. Not a single nail or piece of iron is used in the whole structure. Every year the cables supporting the floor of the bridge are replaced by new ones, they themselves replacing the rails. This bridge is very picturesque in appearance, and a most ingenious engineering feat."
The only kinds of fences used in China are bamboo fences. Of these there is a tremendous variety both in size and weave. The fence Details of Construction of Garage, door end. posts are sections of bamboo poles, one being planted every five feet which is half of a chang, the ten-foot unit of length. By counting posts it is possible to tell how long the fence is. The main part of the fence is wired to the posts, which holds it firmly and prevents it from falling.
The two commonest types of fences are the hsi yen, 希眼 and the lao Hu (老虎). Both of them are made of bamboo lath woven on long bamboo strips, but they differ in their weave. In the former the laths are about three inches apart and criss-cross obliquely, making a diamond-shaped mesh; in the other type of fence the laths are vertical and run close together, leaving no interstices. A four-foot fence of the former type costs Mex. $1.00 per chang. A fence of the latter type uses much more lath and hence is more expensive. An eight-foot fence like this costs Mex. $2.70 per chang. In all cases the cost depends on the kind and the height. Extra fence posts are $0.25 a piece. Various improvements and trimmings can be had for a little addition to the price. The cheapest fences have no top rail, the tops of the laths ending free. By splitting a bamboo pole and wiring it so that the free ends are enclosed in the concave inner surface, the fence acquires a top rail and finished look. In order to aid in the resistance to decay, the fence may also be tarred. This is applied with a rag bunched up and tied to the end of a long thin bamboo pole. The usual price is $0.50 per chang. These are the prices which the foreigner has to pay. It is difficult sometimes to find out what the Chinese pays. The farmer buys a few poles for $0.30 a piece if he has none growing on his place, and builds his own fence, but as a rule fences are very few in the country. What there are, are live shrubs with interlaced branches.
A third kind of fence, the li chu pa (篱竹笆) . is commonly seen about Shanghai enclosing gardens and properties instead of the usual cement-faced brick walls. It is a finer-looking fence than either of the other two. Instead of being made with split bamboo, whole canes of the Li chu (俚竹), small variety of bamboo, are used. The fence is about eight feet high, some are less, and the ends of the canes in the finished fences are bent downward to give the top a scalloped appearance. The main body of the fence is too heavy for bamboo fence posts, so wooden posts are used. In pattern the fence looks something like the hsien ngan po, but there are no open spaces. Instead of one lath and then a space, five or six canes are bunched together with no spaces between, being woven in and out and constituting the body of the fence. Tarring improves both the looks and the durability of this type of fence. Per chang it costs $6.40. Bamboo latticed arbors of bamboo are especially decorative in the garden with vines trailing over them. Most of the fences on the farms of the Yangtse valley are made of the branches of live shrubs interwoven as they stand and bound down with straw The new shoots of the following year are interwoven again and bound or trimmed back.
The chief value of bamboo fences lies in the fact that they are all inclusive. Anything, even small chickens, put in an enclosure surrounded by a bamboo fence is really enclosed. This of course applies more particularly to the second type of fence. Again, bamboo fences are very light but very tough, and they are inexpensive. There can be no crawling between the bars of a bamboo fence. Furthermore, it is very difficult to scale them -- they are so shaky and springy. They seem so unstable, but in reality a bamboo fence in good condition is superior to anything except the woven wire, stock and poultry fences used in the United States. It may not be heavy enough to withstand a violent attack by a water buffalo, for the reason that the posts might give way or the wire fastenings might break, or again because the long horizontal strips that form the warp of the fence might pull out, yet the fibres would never tear. After a year or two of exposure to alternate wetting and drying, however, the fibres become more brittle, and break under strain more readily. The first signs of deterioration may be seen in the posts. These begin to rot around the soil line, often break off merely from the weight of the fence, and thereafter until replaced just hang on, a dead weight. A sagging fence indicates the need of new fence posts. In a typhoon a bamboo fence is in great danger because it is so light and presents a solid front to the wind like a sail. Since typhoons occur infrequently and at certain times of the year only, the chances are in favor of the fence.
There are many uses for bamboo poles. Scaffolding has already been mentioned. This is put up very rapidly, only unsplit poles tied together with green bamboo thongs being used. For this work usually the moo chu (毛竹 Phyllostachys pubescens) is used. These large sized poles retail in Shanghai at from $0.80 to $1.00 a piece according to size. There is a medium-sized kind known as mao ching (毛巾), which is used for boat poles and other things. Both the above kinds supply material for fences. Building contractors, who are by far the largest users of bamboo fences, employ men specially to split poles and build fences. Moreover, these men are expected to be able to estimate closely the number of unsplit poles needed for a fence around any given area. Poles are extensively used for masts on small boats. Towed boats always have the tow-line fastened to the top of a bamboo mast because of its springiness. It gives with the step of the pullers, yet at the same time exerts an almost constant pull on the boat. Where the canal banks are built up, or otherwise crowded, the tow-line is dispensed with ; also, when the boat is too heavily loaded, the junkmen lake to the pole, three or four stamping along each side of the boat, chanting in unison with the movement of the shoulders of the polemen. Besides masts and boat poles, these larger varieties of bamboos are very frequently seen, in the form of flag poles, lent poles, and props of various kinds. In Indo China bamboo is used for telegraph poles.
Shorter lengths of these same big poles are used for carrying heavy loads. The part used is that near the base, since the wood is thicker there. In the cities one often hears the familiar antiphonal 'heigh-ho'ing, indicating that a heavy load is being moved off somewhere. And the heavier the load the louder and more agonized the chant. The load is suspended by ropes from the middle, and the ends of the carrying pole rest on the shoulders of two men. In the case of heavier loads the ends of the primary pole may constitute the center loads of two secondary poles, the weight then being distributed between four men instead of two. The chanting helps the men keep time, a very important factor in transporting the load easily. They get into the swing and can take advantage of the recoil of the pole to make their steps forward. In this way the load is always heaviest when the two men, taking the first case, have both feet on the ground and lightest when they are taking a step. A split pole about five feet long, tapered except for a small knob at both ends, serves as a carrying apparatus for one man alone. A small load such as a bucket of water or a small load of bricks may be suspended from each end and the whole balanced on the shoulder of the coolie. He uses the same principle in carrying his load as the two men cited above. Smaller varieties of bamboo supply the world's demand for fishing poles. Others have their tops lopped off and are run through the sleeves of washed jackets or other garments and stuck out of windows as drying racks. This is an especially convenient method for boat people as well as villagers who live over their shops.
Bamboo furniture, first made in Tientsin, is now fashioned by small shops in many parts of the country, and scores of dealers are to be found in Shanghai. The bending and twisting necessary to the making of some of the articles is accomplished by holding the pieces over a flame and burning them slightly. The yellow and black effects are obtained by treatment with sulphuric acid and baking. A square table big enough for mahjongg playing retails in Shanghai for about $6.00, a chair for $2.50, and a tea table to match $2.00. The workmen who make bamboo furniture in Shanghai come mostly from Tientsin, where they learn their trade. They earn about $10.00 a month and receive food and sometimes living quarters. It is a privilege of workmen in this trade that their employers shall not demand any given number of pieces from them during the month.
Besides the pieces of furniture mentioned, bookcases, desks, couches, stools, boxes, and sedan-chairs are made of bamboo, and are popular not only with the Chinese but with the foreigners as well. A carved section of bamboo in which one partition has been left as a bottom makes a very attractive flower vase. Teapots and jugs of bamboo are not uncommon. Even oil lamps have been made of bamboo, though they are almost things of the past now. A few still remain in use in the interior. Bamboo is also employed in making many desk furnishings. The handles of Chinese pens have always been made of a special variety of small bamboo. Also, pen-holders and paper containers, some of them beautifully and elaborately carved. Formerly, historical records were written on bamboo tablets strung together like a fan. Records of this description dug up in AD. 281, after having been buried for 600 years, were found to contain the history of Tsin from 784 B. C. and incidentally, it is alleged that of China for 1500 years before that date. The framework for holding Chinese copy books when being used to practise Chinese characters is also made of this material, A great many decorative schemes are carried out with bamboo fret-work and lattices.
The variety and uses of bamboo boxes are numberless. A few of the chief and best known are the money-box, the incense-box, the paint-box, and the food-box. Every food hawker and small shop-keeper has his money-box. It consists of a section of large bamboo with a partition in the top and in the bottom, making it look like an elongated drum. In the top partition a small slit is cut to slip the money through. Food-boxes are made in sets. There are usually three in a set, one fitted on top of the other, the handle enclosing all three being fastened to the bottom one. Bamboo baskets are also of many varieties and uses. They vary in size from the smallest toy basket to great receptacles for grain that will hold a ton or more. Cheap little bamboo baskets are provided by food shops for customers to carry away their small orders of prepared food. These baskets come in pairs, are like round shallow dishes in shape, and fit together over the parcel in about the same way as the shells of a fresh-water mussel. Waste basket, shopping baskets, and sewing baskets display very fine workmanship. These are made from the outside "green" of the bamboo and are beautifully designed. Baskets for carrying pigs, big and little, for ducks, geese, chickens, all in different shapes, bird-cages, cricket traps, snares to catch partridges and quail, and hampers are all made of bamboo. Sieves and trays for trying grain and seeds exhibit a variety of sizes, some of the latter being six feet in diameter, and these also are made of bamboo.
Closely woven bamboo strips in the form of panels suitably mounted in bamboo frames and hinged together make very serviceable screens. Very narrow thin strips from the outside of bamboo when properly strung together make very fine sun blinds. More efficient in the way of sun protection, however, is a kind of mat awning. Very thin strips of bamboo are woven into mats about 6’ X 3’ and tied on to bamboo pole frames put up over the tops of the windows. In the summer time many office buildings and residences in Shanghai have these bamboo awnings put up on the side of the buildings which get the afternoon sun. This variety of sun screen has the advantage of allowing plenty of air to circulate in and out of the open windows while affording all necessary shade.
In the garden as on the farm bamboo finds a great number of uses. In the first place the handles of a great many of the digging tools are of bamboo. Pruning hooks and saws are mounted on long bamboo-poles, and also small baskets with claws for plucking fruit. But most useful of all are the ladders. These are sometimes over thirty feet in length. The two side poles are firmly wired together to prevent the bamboo rungs from falling out. Bamboo ladders are wonderfully light and easy to handle, and they are safe until cracks begin to appear. Even then if the internodes are wired immediately before the wood has a chance to rot, they will last a very long time before they need be discarded. Trowels, spades, shovels, "dust-pans", buckets, tubs, foundations for brushes, and brooms, are familiar bamboo-made articles. Regarding brooms, it may be mentioned here that they are made from the branches and heads or tops of bamboo. Near the tip of the culm, the diameter of the cane diminishes beyond the point of major usefulness, so it is chopped off, together with the branches, and sold to make brooms. This material finds a considerable trade in the outports, and large shipments are made from Shanghai and southern ports to Tientsin, Chefoo, and other northern cities where bamboo brooms are made. When they have any spare time as on rainy days, the farmers chop the branches into definite lengths according to fineness, grade them, and then tie up the material into bundles for export.
Other bamboo articles seen on the farm chiefly are yokes for cattle, certain parts of primitive farm machinery, and rain-hats. Both sun-hats and rain-hats are like inverted open-work trays of narrow bamboo strips except that in the case of rain hats they are reinforced with oil paper to make them impervious to water. Furthermore, they are fitted with a frame for the farmer's head. Some of these hats are very broad and are like a head umbrella. Water wheels and the cups with which water is raised to the rice fields are made of bamboo. For sowing kao-liang, millet, etc. up north a peculiar apparatus is used called a tien hu lu, 点葫芦, a large gourd through which a bamboo is passed. This bamboo is slit to hold the seeds stored in the gourd. As the sower walks behind the plough he taps out the seed which has collected at the lower end of the bamboo with a Stick. For threshing beans a kind of flail called a ch'ien is used. The bean stalks are spread out on hard clay threshing floors and beaten. The portion of the flail used to beat out the beans is made of four or five narrow strips of bamboo bound together by cowhide thongs. This is then tied tightly on to the free end of a cylindrical wooden rod about four inches long, and provided with a knob at one end to keep it from slipping through the bent end of . the bamboo handle. In harvesting rice a hand scythe is used. It is cut about an inch above the ground, a handful at a time. If there has been much rain and the field is flooded, the harvested rice is hung on a bamboo frame to dry. In threshing, a bamboo frame may also be used against which bundles of rice are beaten, the grain falling through to the other side..
The Chinese fisherman uses bamboo as material for his various implements just as much as the farmer does. Small boats fitted out with ropes, rigging, oarlocks, masts, and sail stays of bamboo, or rafts of bamboo poles, carry him out to suitable waters. His net, dredge, and floats of bamboo offer him one method of catching his fish, while various kinds of basket traps offer him other methods. Shrimps, crabs, and other fish are caught by basket. In the time of the Chin dynasty the people of Ch'ien Tang made a hung or bamboo dam. in which they caught a million fish a year. In consequence It was called "million-worker dam", wan chiang hung, 万匠篊. In the Ming period a fence of plaited bamboo was built in ponds used for rearing fish. This was called yü, 籞. The most ingenious fishing baskets in this period was the meng sou. 艋艘. It was made of small plaited bamboos. The cover was of woven bamboo splints to which hairy or bristling bamboos were fixed. The basket gradually decreased in size from the mouth to the junction with the hairy bamboo (leaves ?) to allow of the ingress of the fish, but not their egress.
Among the hundreds of uses of bamboo are the flute and the fife made from the more perfect sections of small canes. These are cut into short lengths which are bored, tuned and wound at the joints with silk thread. This finished article may be purchased retail for 30 or 40 cents. Short sections of larger diameter serve as the frame of a fiddle head. Pipe organs have been made with bamboo poles and they seem to have attained the purpose at least temporarily, i e. as long as the pipes last. In the category of tubular things made from bamboo are many other familiar articles. Bamboo pipe line have been used successfully for transporting water supply. All that is needed is a long iron rod or a thin bamboo pole to jam out the partitions. Besides water pipes, bamboo canes have been used for drains and rain spouts. A split bamboo pole with the partitions
knocked out serves to conduct the overflow from higher rice paddies across a country path to another on the other side on the next lower level. Also, they are ingeniously fixed so as to catch water from the edges of the sluice that feeds the water wheel of a primitive flour mill and carry it to the axle supports for the purpose of reducing the friction. As long as the water comes through the sluice the axle of the wheel is automatically lubricated. A plunger can be fitted into a straight section of bamboo and a type of pump made. Bamboo tubes are used to raise brine from salt pits along the sea shore. Small tubes are employed at air blowers to stir up a charcoal fire under the plastered iron bowl which in China is dignified by the name of stove. The latter may be seen being briskly worked by a coolie in front of nearly every restaurant in any village. Formerly, in the silk business tubes of large bamboos, t'ung tzu mien, 筒子棉, were used as frames on which to spread floss silk. All sorts of bamboo splints and frames are used m the silk industry.
Turning to the cotton industry we find that in the Sung dynasty the hsiao hung, 小弓 , or small bow for rendering cotton fine and even was made of bamboo. It was one foot four inches in length. A bow string was set upon it and twanged to set up vibrations which would spread the staple of the raw cotton. The t’an kung (弹弓) was a larger bow, also of bamboo, about four feet in length, and its upper part was somewhat longer than the lower and stronger part. It was strung with cowgut cord covered with string and was used also to bow cotton. It disclosed the hard parts and loosened the tight ones. Bamboo has played a prominent part in the life of more than one industry, if one had but the opportunity and time to go through the list carefully. In the production of bean oil, for instance, we find bamboo strips intimately linked with several of the operations. In one stage, after the beans have been twice ground and steamed preparatory to pressing out the oil, the meal is tamped into shallow disc-like baskets with grass bottoms. These grass blades are caught between hoops woven like tub hoops out of 10-15 strips of bamboo. Countless other similar instances of the participation of bamboo in the industries of China might be cited.
Dr. Wallace Crawford, in the April, 1926, issue of the China Journal of Sciences and Arts goes very fully into the intimate connection of bamboo with the salt industry in Szechwan. His record is so pertinent to this study, and so detailed, that it is interesting to make an extensive quotation.
"Possibly there is no more indispensable article or material in China than bamboo, One missionary who had a knack for such work made a list of the uses to which bamboo could be put. The list was not finished with four hundred and forty separate uses. If it were uprooted from the soil of China, it would be worse than losing a right hand, and there are those who venture to say that the sons of Han could not get along without it. Indeed, so many and varied are its uses around a salt well, that one wonders what would happen if it were suddenly cut off from use. It is the first thing used, for does not the geomancer use bamboo tickets from which to choose when he is trying to decide the location of the new well? And does not the mechanic use a bamboo rule when he first begins to measure the land upon which the well is to be dug? And bamboo makes the stem for the joss sticks which are burned by the priest as he performs his rites when the digging of the well is begun.
"As the well is dug and the derrick is raised, bamboo ropes are used to haul up the logs for the derrick frame; bamboo ropes are used to splice the logs together; wedged tighter by the bamboo wedges. The drum over which the cable is run into the well is bound with bamboo.
"The edging for the wheel which carries the cable into the well is bamboo, while the band that is first put into the well to carry the drill is of bamboo, as is the cable which is later used to carry the brine pipe.
"The conveyer of the brine from the well is a bamboo pipe, fastened to the bamboo cable by hemp. The cable which brings up the brine is twisted bamboo, its manufacture, an industry by itself, carried on some two days' journey from here. The cables are carried in by men. The break which is used on the windlass that winds the cable is of split bamboo, and it runs on strips of bamboo which are lashed by bamboo rope to the wooden windlass. The water buffalo is harnessed with bamboo to the windlass to draw the cable out of the well, while the driver "persuades" the awkward beast with a bamboo whip. The rope with which he is tied by the nose is of smaller bamboo, and his stable is divided into stalls made of old bamboo cable. The sides of the buffalo barn are made of old bamboo rope twisted about the upright posts. The well coolie wends his way home by the light of an old bamboo cable taper.
"The brine runs to the boiling pans through bamboo pipes. The brine pipes are supported by bamboo pieces split finely so that they may be wrapped around the brine pipes, thus preventing their splitting in the hot sun. Old bamboo cable lashes them to the trestle work when they have to be suspended. Bamboo hoops support the great brine vats as they hold the brine preparatory to its being run into the boiling pans. Split bamboo, supported by old bamboo cable, serves to run the brine from the vats to the pans.
"Bamboo matting is made to separate the boiling rooms, while bamboo baskets make splendid beds for the attendants on the boiling pans. Woven bamboo makes skimmers for the refuse on the top of the boiling pans, and the finished product is carried in bamboo baskets and crates. As a delicacy the coolie enjoys bamboo sprouts as he watches the boiling of the salt, often boiled with bamboo fire wood.
"The coolie carries his load of salt to market with a bamboo carrying pole, and his tally is recorded with a bamboo stick. His sun hat is made of bamboo, finely woven, to keep out the rain, while the mat upon which the peddler spreads his wares is of bamboo.
"The perquisite of the labourers about the well is the bamboo when it is impossible to use it further in the industry, and this they either sell or take home to help them repair the home or to boil rice.
"The expert boiler, watching the pans, blissfully smokes a bamboo pipe, while his wife not so far away, sews shoes, the soles of which are made of bamboo leaves, the darkness brightened by the light of a vegetable oil lamp made of bamboo. He dips the brine from one pan to another with the aid of a bamboo dipper and strains the refuse through a bamboo sieve.
"Bamboo guy ropes hold the mighty derrick secure when the great gales blow, and the wheel at the dizzy height at the top of the derrick is trussed with bamboo.
"The subject of the uses of bamboo is not exhausted, as there are many others to which it is daily put. But the reader will readily see that if bamboo were taken from the market here in Tzeliutsing, it would paralyze the salt industry."
Medicine even is not free of bamboo connections. The famous medicine Tabashir, prescribed generally by a Buddhist priest, is guaranteed to cure any and all ailments. In certain bamboos there is found in the cavities between the partitions a substance consisting of silica with a little lime and vegetable matter, or sometimes of silica and potash in the proportion of about 70 per cent silica and 30 per cent potash. It is said to be a concretion due to a diseased condition of the nodes. The opalescent beauty of Tabashir is regarded by the faithful as only equalled by its medicinal value. Sometimes the green outer surface of the young bamboo is scraped off, boiled with water, and used later in combination with other medicines or alone as a cool- ing drink for fever. The green buds of the leaves are employed in the same way and for the same purpose. Of not exactly a medicinal nature is the secretion of the sheath leaves of a certain bamboo. It is said that in the epidermis or in the hairs of the epidermis there is a poisonous secretion which is extremely irritating to the throat and nose, and causes itching which brings on a bad skin infection. This has been known to the Chinese for a long time, for the poison was formerly used in criminal cases. A drink was prepared into which a lot of these hairs were introduced. Death followed, but not before much agony had been suffered. Cattle are not bedded down with the young sheath leaves of this particular kind of bamboo, nor is it planted in the vicinity of wells.
One of the chief uses of bamboo, however, is to provide material for the making of paper, whether the finest writing material or the coarsest wrapping paper. Not only is there a tremendous trade in the paper itself but in the crude pulp as well. Mr. E. H. Wilson from his studies of Chinese flora and products gives us the best account of the native method of manufacturing paper.
"Several species are employed for this purpose, one of the commonest being Phyllostachys heterocladn. This bamboo is abundant in central and western China, especially in alluvial areas near streams up to 4,000 feet altitude. It grows 12 to 18 feet tall, with fairly slender dark green culms; commonly it forms extensive grov6s. The stems are cut into lengths, made into bundles, and immersed in concrete pits, being weighted down and kept under water by heavy stones. After three months they are removed, opened up, and thoroughly washed. Next they are restacked in layers, each layer being well sprinkled with lime and water, holding potash salts in solution. After two months they are well rotted. The fibrous mass is then washed to remove the lime, steamed for fifteen days, when it is removed thoroughly washed, and again placed in concrete tanks. The mass is next reduced to a fine pulp with wooden rakes, and is then ready for conversion into paper. A quantity of the pulp is put into troughs with cold water, and mucilage prepared from the roots of Hibiscus Abelmoschus. An oblong bamboo frame, the size of the desired sheet of paper, having a fine mesh, is held at the two ends by a workman and drawn down endways and diagonally into the liquid contents, which are kept constantly stirred in the trough. It is then gently raised to the surface, and the film which has collected on the top is deposited as a sheet of moist paper when the frame is turned over. After the surplus water has drained away from the mass of moist sheets of paper the whole is submitted to pressure. It is then dried either in kilns or in the sun, according to quality,- the sun-dried being the inferior. Since much water is necessary in the process of paper-making the mills are always erected alongside streams."
Most of the paper made in China is manufactured from bamboos of Kiangsi, Szechwan, Fukien, and Chekiang provinces. In Szechwan province, which is the original paper manufacturing district of the country, the best quality papers are produced. Here the kinds of paper known in trade as Liensshih (连史). Chwanlien (川连) , and mao pien (毛边), are manufactured, also water-proof papers (油纸) for wrapping purposes. The lien shih (连史) and mao pien (毛边) are writing papers. These latter with the pai kwan (白关) for wrapping purposes and mao tai (毛太) , kin chwan (京川) , and hwang piao (黄表) are produced in Kiangsi. The making of paper pulp from bamboo is a household industry in Hunan and Kiangsi. Every third year shows the greatest output because it is at that time that the bamboo is cut. This paper is inferior to Hangchow and Shaohingfu paper. The Tingchow and Tsianglo districts in Fukien are the chief producing places of bamboo-made paper. Ting kung (汀贡), ting pien (汀边) , and tsiang lo (将乐) are well known among paper merchants. In Chekiang province varieties of what are known as yuan ssu (元书) , king fang (金方) , piao sing (表蕊), and kao nan (高南) are produced. Besides these, hang tsien (杭阡) for sacrificial purposes and paper for supporting tinfoil are produced from bamboo. Hunan produces a paper of a coarser kind. Most of this gees into fire-crackers, playing cards, wall paper, umbrellas, and papiers rouge. The latter is much affected by Chinese women. Though Phyllostachys heteroclada is the bamboo most commonly used for making paper, from the Batung and Changyang districts of Hupeh come other kinds which may be used for the same purpose, chiefly, Phyllostachys nidularia and Phyllostachys congesta. The former goes under the name of twei chu.
Finally, in connection with the material uses of bamboo we come to its familiar appearance in the markets and on our tables as food. Bamboo shoots are a delicacy very popular with both Chinese and foreigners. They are sold in three forms, fresh, dried, and pickled. According to one investigator, the yield ought to be 40 lb. of shoots yearly per mow. The earliest or "winter" shoots are the best and of course the most expensive. The later ones picked in April and May are much larger and inclined to be more fibrous. A minimum of fibre is very desirable, since the shoots are then more tender. The farmers feel along the ground with their bare feet and when their toes come across the point of a shoot a small mound of earth is piled over the place not only to mark it but to keep it under cover as long as possible. This is the same kind of treatment accorded asparagus to keep it white. If the bamboo shoot is exposed too soon, it turns green immediately, and that means that fibre development will go forward at a rapid rate. Very often, instead of piling earth over the young shoot, the farmers cover it with a wooden bucket to keep it in the dark. After they are cut, the greatest danger is the loss of water. If they are to be transported a long way, they are packed in baskets in mud and disinterred upon arrival at the markets, the cut ends recut, and the whole sprinkled with water. An analysis shows that they are 90% water. Of the solid remainder 3.2% is protein, 0.2% fat, and 6.2% carbohydrate. An investigation of the vitamin content reveals the presence of a slight amount of vitamin B.
One way of drying bamboo shoots is to strip off the sheathing leaves, leaving only the brittle succulent part. These are boiled with water, then removed and suspended from rafters in a closed chamber, where they are dried over steady burning fires. When thoroughly dry they are packed in bales and carried to the cities, where they are esteemed a great delicacy. Another way is to leave them on the sheathing leaves after splitting, and after boiling to press them flat and dry them. On the slopes of Wa wu- shan near Yachou Fu in Szechuan, Wilson tells us, the collection and preparation of dried bamboo shoots for culinary purposes is a very important industry. But this industry is not by any means confined to this region alone. Most places where bamboo grows at all support a local industry in bamboo shoots. In the country around Chengtu the raw shoots used to sell for only 6 cash per 16-oz. catty, but in the city the prepared shoots sell for Tls. 9 per 100 catties of 20-oz. each, or 9 cents a catty. In Shanghai raw shoots retail to foreigners at 20 to 30 cents a catty, depending upon the season, (1 catty = 12lb.).
The industry is now on the increase because of the introduction of canning. Ningpo and Amoy are the chief canning centres. The figures have been repeated elsewhere, but they are given here again to emphasize the growing importance of bamboo shoots. Exports of bamboo shoots from Foochow to Amoy mostly for canning purposes were estimated at 80,000 catties for the spring of 1924. The current price then was $2.50 per 100 catties. The shoot as well as being a food may, like the culm, house a god under certain conditions. In the valleys among the Chekiang hills between the rice fields one often passes small shrines in which instead of the accustomed idol one sees a dried bamboo shoot. On examination this shoot reveals very unusual characteristics. The most noticeable are the oblique joints which give a zig-zag effect. It has been found that occasionally in a grove of Phylhstachya pubeacens (Mao Chu, 毛竹) which is very common in this region, a shoot comes up with this freak characteristic. The Chinese are quick to discover it and because of its strangeness they think it possessed of preternatural powers.
Out of the cult of ancestor-worship have arisen many superstitions, some of them responsible for the practice of adopting children. Besides true adoption by childless parents, there exists a kind of spurious adoption founded entirely on the superstition that it is possible to cheat the malignant spirits which connive at the illness and death of children. If parents are too poor to bring up their children, especially the sons, the child may be commended at the instigation of a fortune-teller to the care of a tree. The spirit of the tree henceforth becomes its patron. Because it is regarded as a prince among trees, the bamboo is preferred before all others for this kind of adoption. On this account the child, because he has become the ward of such an influential spirit, may have a better chance in life.
Before 221 A. D. carriages, 笨, pens, and barrows were made of bamboo. Sedan-chairs and the carrying poles are still made of bamboo in some parts of China. In some parts of Shantung the people travel by mule litter, the bows that go over the backs of the mules are made of bamboo. Though bamboo is used extensively in the northern provinces, bamboo is not native and therefore must be shipped from the south. Another 'bamboo' method of travel is by raft. To keep the hollow ends of the poles out of water, the better to keep intact the air-tight chambers, the ends are heated and turned up. This is done more particularly to rafts regularly employed as ferries. Bamboo pole-carrying rafts sometimes come from very great distances and usually very slowly. Because they are so long, several men are needed to pole them. Consequently, shelters are built on the rafts for them. Those living on board are responsible until the raft is brought safely to its
There are many miscellaneous uses of bamboo which might be referred to in passing, such as chopsticks, graters, walking sticks, umbrella frames, foot-rules, probes, pins, castanets, backs of mahjongg tiles, combs, cigarette holders, and fans. Fine combs, graters, and sieves of bamboo are made in taichow, Shantung, while mahjongg tiles are made in great quantities in Soochow and Shanghai. Hangchow is famous for its fans. The familiar folding fan was not the original fan of China. The fans were first round, according to a certain authority, in the beginning of the Yuan dynasty, the Commissioner of the "South East Barbarians" used a chu t'ou 聚头, and people laughed at him. Then, in the beginning of the reign of Yung Lo (1403-1425) , the Ming Emperor, the Koreans sent a quantity of folding fans as tribute. One version states that at first only servants and runners and people of the lower classes used them because they were convenient when serving others. Another states that the Emperor was so pleased with them that he issued orders to the Imperial Works office to imitate them. The were then distributed to the ministers, bestowed as rewards, and given as gifts Shortly the whole empire was using them, and round fans were discarded.
Among the kinds of walking sticks, that made from the square bamboo (Phyllostachys qiiadrangularis) is especially prized. It was originally made in Yunnan, originally as staves. It gradually made its way north. Chang Ch'ien in 128 B. C. knew about the square bamboo staves in Szechwan; he also found that the people there carried on a considerable trade in staves with the people of Bactria. This kind of bamboo is said also to occur in Shan-tung, where it is likewise made into walking sticks.
Into the military profession and the religious life of China, bamboo has also found its way. Fine spears and arrows as well as bows and shields used to be made of bamboo; so are torches, conical military hats, criminal beaters, and splints for binding up wounded limbs. The magicians have their tokens and divining rods of bamboo, and the priests their lotteries. The latter are bamboo sticks with numbers which correspond to prophetic poems printed on separate sheets of paper bearing the same number, or cryptic double-edged messages from the gods. The joss sticks seen in such abundance in the temples giving up their fragrance to the idols are slivers of bamboo.
In commerce, the checks, tags and tallies used by the coolie stevedores to keep count of the number of loads carried are made of bamboo. The tallies are long narrow bamboo splints which are usually kept in a rack by a man at the gate, and passed out one by one as each coolie goes in.
Bamboo shavings are used to caulk boats and for stuffing pillows and mattresses. Even cloth for garments has been made of bamboo. Thirty or forty years ago summer garments of bamboo material were popular, but the increased cost of labour has now brought this vogue to an end. It took too much time to make them.
Various articles are also made from the leaves. Rain-coats worn in the south by the countrymen are made of leaves sewn together. Again, in sealing up jars of Ju Fu a Chinese food made from beans, leaves are used. A cloth is first laid over the mouth of a jar containing the preparation. Some bamboo leaves are placed on top, and together they are bound around the neck of the jar with a cord. Finally, sticky clay mixed with the flowers of a reed is put on the mouth and neck and allowed to harden, thus sealing the jar. The preparation cannot be opened within four months, otherwise, the stuff will spoil. This same system is used to seal jars of Chiang Yu. The broad leaves of varieties like Sasa palmata or S. tesselleta are used for wrapping together small parcels of food, Sewn together they are used in packing tea. The coarse leathery sheath leaves of the Mao chu, 毛竹, (Phyllostochys pitbescens) are used in the country around Hangchow and vicinity to make soles for shoes. The sheath leaves enclosing the shoots of the larger bamboos are very broad and one of these tough bracts does adequately for one shoe.
Bamboo has figured most prominently in the art of China. It is one of the four favorite plants and is spoken of as one of the "three friends of winter". Some of the finest paintings have had bamboo as a subject. No landscape is complete which does not include a few gracefully arching plumes of bamboo. Many precepts are derived from bamboo, and its symbolism reaches deep into the life and customs of the people. Even after death a sprig is carried in the van of the funeral procession.
Undoubtedly the best place to get a comprehensive glance at the magnitude and ramifications of the bamboo industry is Shanghai in May. The leased property and roads around the Bubbling Well Temple then become a seething ocean of tents, pavilions, and temporary shelters for vendors of bamboo ware. It is the annual bamboo fair and a sight worth seeing.