A World Built In A Grove — A Series On Bamboo Interventions — I
In a world overwhelmed by plastic and pollution, we, as consumers, are looking for alternatives. With income inequality across the world rising, we are looking for ways to contribute to our local economies. The question of sustainability has to consider for every region. Therefore, it is so vital that traditional art and handicraft remains central to our consumption. In our quest to find more environmentally friendly materials, bamboo can’t be overlooked. This three-part series on bamboo focuses on several aspects of the material. A World Built In A Grove — A Series On Bamboo Interventions — I looks into the history and making of bamboo products and their uses. The second article will focus on the hands behind the products and past circumstances. The final piece will dive deep into the discourse on sustainability and how bamboo is placed in it.
Part One: What is bamboo’s history, and how does it influence culture?
Bamboo is an integral part of India’s culture and Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia, and the South Pacific. To some degree, it is also extended to Central and South America. And its products are boldly associated with India’s rural culture and many other Global South countries.
Its versatility gave it many name like “bamboo culture”, “poor man’s timber”, and “friend of the people”. Bamboo, like timbre, is a natural composite material with a high strength-to-weight ratio. In addition, this ratio is very useful for structures, which makes it a widely used construction material.
Bamboo: The Oldest Craft Cultures Known To Man.
In India, there are 125 native as well as exotic species belonging to 23 generations. The Bamboo forest covers an area of 10.03 million hectares, approximately 12.8% of the total forest area in the world.
It continues to thrive in many regions of India, for instance, in the alluvial plains to the high mountains. More than 50% of the bamboo species are found in Eastern India — Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, and West Bengal. Other areas rich in bamboo include the Andamans, the Bastar region of Madhya Pradesh, and the Western Ghats.
India has good sources of high-quality bamboo. Therefore Indian artisans have excellent raw materials to work with to create beautiful utility and luxury articles. The craft of bamboo cane, for instance, is a source of employment for thousands of craftspeople in India.
It is the most efficient natural resource as far as strength vis-à-vis cost. Above all Bamboo’s versatility is unparalleled; it is possible to mould into any shape for low-cost housing, handicrafts, decoration items including baskets, small sculptures, etc. Rural artisans of the country have shown sincerity and laudable efforts, which is a must in product making.
Bamboo: Making And Products
To make the products like baskets, the artisan gets the raw material storage nearby. Then they cut it to make straps, approximately about 3/4th inch wide and 10 inches long. Using this they make a base and the body for the weaving of the basket.
Bamboo products are no more conventional products. Bhavyata Foundation’s initiative to make products a staple in households has led to alternative products like sustainable bamboo lamps. Made by artisans in Maharashtra, and West Bengal, the lamps, for instance, will provide your home with beauty while they also provide a source of income to communities. Our festival offerings include Diwali “torans” and rakhis. Diwali and Raksha Bandhan are festivals that celebrate love, strength, and the value of community. In addition, on the path of being “aatma-nirbhar”, this initiative celebrates our culture, while preserving the local traditions.
The Beauty Of Bamboo And Other Merits
Besides art, eating bamboo is good for our wellbeing. Bamboo shoots contain phytochemicals that have antibacterial and antiviral effects in the body. In addition, they are a good source of dietary fiber and contain potassium, which is vital for a healthy heart.
The beauty of bamboo is about what it represents. From sustainability to the beauty of traditions, it encapsulates the idea of what we truly believe is “India”. Above all, the point of seeking alternative economies is to support our own. We believe in helping small businesses, nonprofits, and communities of workers who, for generations, have kept India’s culture alive. Bamboo are indeed the backbone of our art and aesthetics.
In continuation, the next articles will look into this very community. The creators of the products and the guardians of our culture. Where are the workers? What are their material conditions like? And in addition, what can we do to help them. In conclusion, an economy driven by conscious consumption can shape a better world. It can build us socially, economically, and culturally.