Bamboo Meanings

Introduction to Bamboo Symbolism

bamboo symbolThe bamboo is the most popular plant in China. Every village in Southern China is surrounded by bamboo groves. To be Chinese is to feel at home with bamboo. The drooping bamboo leaves cross one another, as if they are composing the Chinese character "An" (tranquility). For the wandering traveler writing letters back home, to include a bamboo leaf is to say, "I am fine, I hope that everyone in the family is enjoying peace."

Bamboo Symbolism and the Spirit of Summer

In the order of the Four Gentlemen (the seasons of the year), the bamboo represents the spirit of summer. But since the bamboo lasts through all seasons, it is frequently associated with pine and plum as the "Three Winter Friends."The bamboo is considered a gentleman with perfect virtues. It combines upright integrity with accommodating flexibility; it has the perfect balance of grace and strength, or the Yin and the Yang.

Bamboo SymbolWhen the storm comes, the bamboo bends with the wind. When the storm ceases, it resumes its upright position. Its ability to cope with adversity and still stand firmly without losing its original ground is inspirational to a nation which has constantly suffered calamities.

Bamboo Symbolism: The Scholar

Bamboo is used in every phase of Chinese living, yet it needs very little care to grow and flourish. It is well-sectioned with a polished "skin" and sturdy texture. Like a self-cultivated scholar in hermitage, it is ready to render services when called upon.

Bamboo MeaningBamboo Symbolism: Simplicity and Humility

Bamboo personifies the life of simplicity. It produces neither flowers nor fruit. Chen Pan Chiao compared himself to bamboo, saying, "I will not grow flowers, so that I avoid tempting the butterflies and bees to disturb me." The hollow trunk reminds the Chinese of humility. One artist said, "Bamboo, who understands humility by emptying his heart, (without stuffing it with arrogance) is my teacher."

Bamboo SymbolsBamboo Symbolism: Respect for Elders

The young branches at the top of the bamboo trunk will not grow at the same angle as the older branches below, in order to allow sunlight for their elders. When the young shoots emerge from the roots, they are under the shade of the older bamboo branches. Such a spirit reflects the young respecting the old as well as the old protecting the young.

The Amazing Bamboo Plant

Bamboo are the fastest growing plant on earth, reaching their full height in a single season. They are used as building materials, for food and as decorative plants for gardens and homes. Bamboo are the largest members of the grass family and are found in highly diverse climates.

Bamboo is used to make an incredible variety of products including bamboo baby clothing available at Organica Essentials. Other bamboo products include outdoor and backyard products, bamboo fencing, bamboo furniture, bamboo rugs, bamboo blinds and bamboo matting available through Bamboo and Tikis. Durable and beautiful household products including the following are available through Think Bamboo Inc.

Bamboo Cutting Boards Bamboo Kitchen Utensils Bamboo Plates
Bamboo Placemats Bamboo Storage Containers Bamboo Bath Towels
Bamboo Knitting Needles Bamboo Skewers Back Scratchers
Find all of these products and more at Think Bamboo Inc.

Unusual Reproduction Ecology

bamboo symbolBamboo plants do flower occasionally, but usually at intervals of 60 to 130 years! A grove of bamboo all flower at the same time, followed by the death of the adult plants. This unusual behavior greatly affects the ecology of the surrounding area--resulting in a growth in rodent populations that feed on the flowers, followed by a possible ravaging of nearby fields of crops intended for humans. (Photo courtesy of Moeng, Wikimedia Commons)

Medicinal Uses of Bamboo

Bamboo is used in Chinese medicine to speed healing and reduce infections, In traditional Indian medicine, or Ayurveda, substances from the bamboo stem are used to treat respiratory infections.

bamboo fluteMusical Instruments from Bamboo

Bamboo is a natural choice for wind and percussion instruments because of its hollow form. Bamboo flutes and pipes are common around the world. Bamboo wood is sometimes used in place of other woods for stringed instruments. Bamboo can even be used to create a full organ. (Photo courtesy of Lombroso, Wikimedia Commons.)

Bamboo Photos for Projects and Design

Need photos of bamboo? Please visit Dreamstime Stock Photography. Dreamstime is a distinguished leader in stock photography and a major supplier of high quality digital images at unbelievable prices. The Dreamstime database is renewed with thousands of fresh images and titles on a daily basis.

More Information About Chinese Symbols

For more information about Chinese symbols, see the following Amazon books:
China: Empire of Living Symbols
Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought|
Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery

Chinese Folk Designs (Dover Pictorial Archive Series)
Symbols of Eternity: The Art of Landscape Painting in China

More About the Chinese Five Elements

For more information about the Chinese five elements, try the following Amazon books:
Wood Becomes Water: Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life
Traditional Acupuncture: The Law of the Five Elements
Power of the Five Elements: The Chinese Medicine Path to Healthy Aging and Stress Resistance
Fusion of the Five Elements: Meditations for Transforming Negative Emotions

©2009-2010 Living Arts Enterprises, LLC

Yeh, Ning. An Album of Chinese Brush Painting: Eighty Paintings and Ideas. Huntington Beach, CA: Ning Yeh's Art Studio, 1986.

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