Perhaps no other plant holds as much cultural significance to man as the Bamboo. A part of the grass family, Bamboo is characterized by its rapid growth, long life and versatile uses in several fields. While its popularity as a building material in construction, as a culinary ingredient and for purifying water is well known, very few people understand the cultural importance of the Bamboo. If you want to know how significant this plant is culturally and historically, you may want to read this article. Specifically, we will see its role in traditional medicine, as a revered plant, in legends and symbolisms associated to it.
While Bamboo is grown and used all over the world, it is extremely popular in the Asian region where not only is it an important part of the economy, but is also part of the culture. Several of its unique qualities such as its long life and its strong upright position have been associated with longevity, hardworking and honesty and have thus been symbolized as traits every man should have. In the Indian culture, Bamboo is known as a friendship symbol, while the Japanese consider it sacred and build temples around Bamboo shoots, believing that it blocks the evil.
Bamboo is also an important medicinal plant and is used in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine. Apart from healing infections, it is known to cure respiratory diseases and is also a nutritional source of protein. Before paper was invented, Bamboo strips strung together were used as a writing surface and even now, many industries use bamboo for manufacturing paper. Bamboo was so popular in China that several poems and folk stories were written and paintings drawn, all revolving around this plant. Infact, many legends in Buddhist, Chinese and Indian cultures associate the birth of mankind with the bamboo shoot.
Being a nutritious plant, Bamboo, specifically its shoot, was also a part of food for the Buddhist and Chinese people. Bamboo is also central to the Vietnamese culture where it is thought of as a symbol of life cycle. This humble, yet strong plant was also extensively used to make weapons. History documents that several arms of the olden times in Japan and India such as swords, spears, sticks and bows were made from Bamboo, and there still exists martial arts that practice with such weapons.
Bamboo has always been a part of history and tradition, particularly in Asia and its presence in their food, medicine, building material and textiles among other uses makes it an extremely significant part of Asian culture.