Lighting up the planet

In 1854, Henricg Globel, a German watchmaker made the first true light bulb. He used a carbonised bamboo filament inside a glass bulb>. In 1879, Thomas Alva Edison too used bamboo splits as filaments, working with bamboo obtained from Japan. The bamboo filament tended to last about forty hours before burning out.

Polo balls – made from bamboo rhizome

The modern and glamorous game of polo owes its origins to Sagol Kangjei, a sport that originated in the Imphal valley of Manipur. To this day, Meitei riders astride sturdy Manipuri ponies play many-a-side polo, using rattan sticks and a ball fashioned from bamboo rhizome. The practice of using a ball made from bamboo rhizome continued for many years, to be replaced only well into the 20th century with balls made of hard plastic material.

The tallest bamboo

The tallest of the bamboos is Dendrocalmus giganteus, common in North East India, and in North Bengal. Typically growing to 30-35 metres, the tallest culm specimen measured has been in Arunachal Pradesh, ar over 42 meters.

Teething troubles solved with bamboo

Mr. Dodhi Pathak makes artificial teeth from bamboo. He made the first set for his own use, but now designs and fits dentures for anyone who needs them. Many people in Nalbari, his home Assam are now wearing bamboo teeth. With them, they can chew anything and eat mutton and fish. Mr. Pathak makes a tooth in half an hour to make. The teeth last up to 10 years and can be fitted permanently or be removed like dentures. His work has been recognised by the National Innovation Foundation of India, which is helping him expand the business. Mr. Pathak has also made a bicycle entirely from bamboo – except, of course, the tyres and tubes.

Towards freedom – walking with bamboo

One of the enduring images of India’s freedom struggle is of Mahatma Gandhi setting out on the Salt March in 1931, a 140 kilometre odyssey from Ahmedabad to Dandi. As always, he carried little else but his conviction - and a bamboo stave.

Watch it grow!
A bamboo culm grows spectacularly, at a rate unrivalled in the plant world. Clump forming bamboos tend to reach their full height in 3-4 months, with the maximum growth taking place over 3-4 weeks. The taller species, - for instance Dendrocalamus giganteus – can reach a length of a hundred feet or more under good growing conditions. This means that there are periods when the culm is growing three feet in a day! Growth at night tends to be faster than during the day, and can be as much as two – three inches per hour.