The beauty behind bamboo
Bamboo blinds have been around for many centuries.
Even the Zen teaching of the great Fa-yen of Ch'ing-liang uses a metaphor involving the rolling up and letting down of Bamboo blinds to comment on the issue of loss and gain.
He once said of bamboo blinds:
'When they are rolled up the great sky is bright and clear,
but the great sky still does not match our Way.
Why don't you throw away that sky completely?
Then not a breath of wind will come through'
Luckily, there are more options with bamboo blinds today. It is no longer necessary for the blind to rest fully open or closed (although you shouldn’t let the great Fa-yen stop you if you so desire it), and they can now be arranged to let just the right amount of light to enter the room and are also available as vertical blinds.
Bamboo Blinds: From the East to the West
The making of bamboo blinds in Japan dates back to before the Heian period (794-1185), when they were first used as screens inside Imperial palaces and in the homes of noblemen. Even today bamboo contributes to almost every aspect of life in Japan and is used for everything from scaffolding to crafting children’s toys. Bamboo’s strength and versatility makes it a unique manufacturing material and some varieties shoot up so quickly that they literally grow before your eyes.
Although bamboo blinds are freely available in the West, in China bamboo blind manufacturing is maintained as a traditional craft; involving both manual and mechanical procedures. Bamboo is cut during October when moisture levels are low, the skin is then stripped using a curved knife and the bamboo is split into eight sections. These are then threaded into a binding machine where the pieces of bamboo are woven together (traditionally with silk). Manufacturers’ justifiably claim the traditional methods of construction imbue the blind a little of the beauty, atmosphere and elegance of the East.
In Malaysia, bamboo blinds have taken on a more unusual use. When the heat of the sun becomes too intense, the shopkeepers lower their bamboo blinds and the place takes on a different look. Here, the bamboo blinds serve a dual purpose: not only are they used to provide shade, they are also the perfect canvas for advertising the shop and what it has to sell.