/////////////// A POTTED HISTORY OF BAMBOO /////

As founder of Mabboo I feel I have a responsibility to anyone reading this now to admit that when I founded Mabboo back in 2008 I did not have a degree in fashion and textiles! What I did have was a degree in History with Contemporary Chinese studies – random I know! So I thought I’d put degree to good use to tell the story of bamboo, a plant which has influenced my life and has had a profound effect on human history for societies, economies, cultures and even sports. I will also highlight briefly many of uses for bamboo that have been utilised over the centuries. History is all about telling stories and the story of bamboo and its influences is fascinating so I hope you enjoy reading more…

Let’s start with the basics of the plant and clear up a major misconception about bamboo, it is not wood! Bamboo is a grass species and there are over 1,450 species of bamboo in the world. Bamboo also holds the world record as the fastest growing plant. The fastest growing species can grow to the height of a double 
decker bus in a week.
 Bamboo is unsurprisingly most prevalent in Asian history particularly in China. Bamboo’s long life makes it a symbol of longevity in China.
Without doubt the most important plant in Chinese culture is the 500 or so species that are found on the Chinese mainland. Bamboo forests have inspired artists through the ages.

Bamboo is also a fundamental part of daily life, playing a significant economic role. Bamboo is so supple that it can be woven into a cloth, so fleshy that it makes delicious dishes, so strong that it can be used in scaffolds to support that mad rush of high rise skyscrapers going up across China and Asia at large – bamboo has a stronger tensile strength than steel. 

 It is the ultimate utilitarian plant. Baskets and mats have been made from it for at least 5000 years, bamboo paper was invented about 1100 years ago, and long before that, characters were scratched on slips of green bamboo – possibly the first ever writing. Numerous musical instruments are made using bamboo. Bamboo is used in traditional medicines and for countless pieces of furniture. 
Wars were fought with bamboo bows and arrows, the use of bamboo is prevalent in martial arts. 
With the Chinese invention of gunpowder, bamboo firearms and missiles were used. Today, bamboo fireworks cheer in the Dai New Year.

One of personal favourite stories of bamboo and sport is that bamboo goalposts were used in the earliest form of a game in which a ball was kicked called cuju the Han writer Li You mentions a form of the game in 55-135 AD!!! 
 Of course now technology has now allowed us to develop bamboo into a super-soft, anti-bacterial and thermo-regulating fabric. I bet cuju players of times past would've enjoyed playing in a bamboo kit!