This is How We Preserve Bamboo Traditionally

This time we will discuss a bit about traditional bamboo preservation techniques, especially preservation of bamboo a la Java.

The technique of preserving bamboo that we will discuss is the result of research by experts on bamboo. Although the results of the research we refer here are the results of research in the 80s, but I believe the techniques presented are still quite relevant to apply today. Interested? 🙂 Lets continue..

The research we refer in this discussion is Pak Achmad Sulthoni’s research (Faculty of Forestry, UGM) entitled “Traditional preservation of bamboo in Java, Indonesia” in the proceedings of Recent Research on Bamboos conference. Proceedings of the International Workshop. [1]

There are several types of bamboo used in this research (still remember common types of bamboo used as building materials? Read more about bamboo here if you forget). Mr. Sulthoni examines traditional Javanese bamboo preservation techniques applied to Gigantochloa apus (a type of bamboo often used as a building structure material), Gigantochloa otter (commonly made as furniture and musical instruments from bamboo), Dendrocalamus asper (commonly used as poles), and Bambusa vulgaris (commonly found bamboo types and rarely used as building material). All of these samples are 2 (two) years old.

In a study conducted by Pak Sulthoni, the existing samples accounted for differences in the content of the starch powder (when the bamboo entered a sufficient age to be harvested and after preserved), treated equally (i.e. preserved in the traditional Javanese way: immersion in water 3 (three) months), and the number of attacks in the form of holes in bamboo stems made by bamboo starch insects / insects are recorded.

Traditional technique of preserving Bamboo

The traditional bamboo preservation technique that is commonly practiced is the preservation of bamboo by soaking in water. This immersion takes time varying from two months to six months. Bamboo that has entered the cutting period will usually be cut down at a certain time which is believed to have an effect on starch and moisture content in the bamboo stems. After that bamboo stems soaked, either in rivers, ponds, trenches, swamps, and water areas containing salt.

The bamboo stalk is soaked with the purpose of eliminating / reducing as much as possible starch content contained in the trunk. After several months of soaking, the bamboo stalks will be removed and dried to remove the moisture found in the bamboo stems and also to remove the bad smell due to the long immersion process. In this drying process, bamboo is usually placed standing so that airflow and sunshine can dry the bamboo evenly.

Mr. Sulthoni examined one of the linkages between bamboo harvesting practices commonly practiced in Java with the number of insecticide eaters in bamboo stems. In addition, he also examined the average content of starch powder in bamboo stems of 4 (four) bamboo species that were sampled throughout the year. Accordingly, Mr Sulthoni gave at least four valuable information that you had to know to determine when to best harvest bamboo for each of the types of bamboo being studied, and how many insect pest attacks after bamboo being immersed by soaking techniques for 1, 2 and 3 months.. 🙂

The results of Pak Sulthoni’s research include:

traditional bamboo preservation techniques
Starch content on bamboo culm

  • The best bamboo cutting period in Java is around April – early May, given that at that time (“old epoch” or “mangsa tua”, ie Java XI epoch) the relative number of population of 3 species of bamboo starch powder (Dinoderus minutus and D. brevis; Conarthrus praeustus, G. filiformis, and Myocalandra exarata and Laemotmetus rhizopagoides) at least compared to other times of the year;
  • The most resistant species of bamboo against pests (from 4 species of bamboo samples) are Gigantochloa apus (bamboo apus) and G. atter (bamboo ater / pring legi). The results of Pak Sulthoni’s research indicate that the number of holes contained in the two types of bamboo tend to be much less than Bambusa vulgaris, which is consistent with the amount of starch powder in the bamboo stalk (G. apus: 0.24-0.71%, G. atter: 0.24-0.64% , B. vulgaris: 0.48-7.97%, and D. asper: 0.27-2.80%);

Soaking bamboo in water (both running water and still water) is good enough to improve the durability of bamboo. According to the research of Pak Sulthoni, soaking bamboo for one month is enough. Bamboo which is categorized good for construction is bamboo which has starch content of powder less than 1%;

The useful life of bamboo that has been preserved by water immersion technique is good enough with at least holes made bamboo-eating pests, for the three types of bamboo: Gigantochloa apus, G. atter, D. asper. Meanwhile, this does not apply to the type of Bambusa vulgaris. According to Mr. Sulthoni, this further confirms that the level of starch powder content in bamboo greatly affects the quality of bamboo itself.

Well, that’s a bit about traditional bamboo preservation technique especially as it is widely practiced in Java, based on research results of Mr. Sulthoni from UGM. Hopefully it gives you valuable information about preserving bamboo traditionally .. and hopefully on another occasion we can discuss the modern preservation techniques of bamboo as well..

See you later on the next post … 🙂

Some books on bamboo in case you are interested:

“Ornamental Bamboos”

“Contemporary Japanese Bamboo Arts”



[1] Sulthoni, A. (1985, October). Traditional preservation of bamboo in Java, Indonesia. In Recent Research on Bamboos. Proceedings of the International Workshop (pp. 349-358).

[2] Pictures taken from pixabay.

Post a Comment