Category Archives: Bamboo Brief


Nripal Adhikary, a Nepali architect, is a man with a vision. He is also a big fan of bamboo. While his counterparts around the country have mainly relied on brick and steel, Adhikary has long employed bamboo – and (packed) earth – in his designs and buildings. Bamboo grows widely in Nepal, and due to the country’s ample biodiversity, stretching from the heights of the Himalayas to the tropics in the south, 54 species of bamboo exist in all. But the abundant supply of this towering grass all around the country only partly explains Adhikary’s awareness and use of bamboo. ... [ Read More ]


Ng Teck Seng and Erik Sampson live on opposite sides of the globe, and in many ways, their lives could not be more dissimilar. But their passions and livelihoods are one and the same: They both make flutes out of bamboo. Ng Teck Seng is of Chinese descent and lives in Singapore. 57-year-old Ng first learned to play music in his teens. He then studied at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, learned the art of conducting and, for over a decade, played with the People’s Association Chinese Orchestra. While playing with the orchestra, he sensed that the design of many ... [ Read More ]


It is commonly thought that bamboo blooms best in Asia. But, two thirds of the world’s bamboo forests grow in Africa, with Ethiopia’s extensive reserves taking top place. With a bountiful supply so freely accessible to its people, it’s little wonder that bamboo is used so extensively in this country, especially among ethnic groups still living primarily off the land. The Guge Mountains in Ethiopia’s southern region, from the banks of the Omo River to the Lake Abaya highlands, are home to the Droze tribe. With an estimated population of nearly 40,000, residing at an average elevation of 3,000m above ... [ Read More ]


If you blink, you might miss the sight of a few reworked pieces of grass whizzing by on a set of wheels.  And if they happen to be painted in bright yellow, you’d be entirely forgiven for not believing that the bicycle frame that just zipped across your line of vision, is made entirely of bamboo. This is what happened in Ubud earlier this year, when a bamboo bike was spotted wheeling around town. Its proud owner? Chinese native and Bali newcomer, Su Xiaofang. In July 2015, Su (aka Suskita) set out from China on a bamboo bike that she calls Little ... [ Read More ]


In China, bamboo has historically been used to treat infections and for other medicinal purposes. But bamboo has been a staple in the country for other reasons; a tablet on which centuries-old contributions to Chinese literature and learning – such as the renowned military text, The Art of War – had been scribed. These unearthed manuscripts have provided an abundance of historical data to archeologists and scholars.  The Bamboo Annals – – written on strips of bamboo, are considered the oldest written Chinese records, dating from the 8th century B.C. Also known as the Ji Tomb Annals, they were discovered in a tomb (in ... [ Read More ]

Avianto: Weaving Bamboo into Art

Every so often, a hint of nature appears in the most unexpected and incongruous of places. That was the case at an exhibition titled ‘Roots. Indonesian Contemporary Art’ that wrapped up earlier this year at Germany’s Frankfurter Kunstverein, when the museum’s frontage was plastered with a massive swathe of bamboo.  The site-specific installation, titled Pohon Besar (Big Trees), 2015, constructed in conjunction with Indonesia’s appearance as the Guest of Honour at the last Frankfurt Book Fair, was both a tribute to Indonesia’s cultivation of bamboo, and a paean to global tensions between traditionalism and modernity.  Taking inspiration from his homeland’s traditional craft and design, ... [ Read More ]

Inventions Indebted to Bamboo – by Peripatete

 Bamboo is the world’s fastest-growing plant, with a potentially infinite number of applications. In this column, we explore stories about the ever-ubiquitous bamboo – from Bali and around the world.  In the late 19th century, two of the world’s most celebrated scientists and inventors, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Alva Edison, are known to have experimented with a fiber that was, back then, little known in the western world: bamboo.   ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) was a Scottish-born scientist and educator, best known as one of the primary inventors of the telephone. But his other scientific and ... [ Read More ]