According to Wikipedia, there are over 10,000 species of Bamboo and the site goes on to list all the different types of Bamboo available.
The bamboo is no stranger in South East Asia.
We use it to make cane chairs, decorate our gardens, eat the shoots of the bamboo and it is an all time favourite plant for Chinese ink paintings. There are also buildings made of bamboo! Bamboo has a higher compressive strength than wood, brick or concrete and a tensile strength that rivals steel. An example of some beautiful bamboo pieces in both China and Indonesia (Source http://www.inspirationgreen.com/bamboo-buildings.html and http://www.commune.com.cn )
The Bamboo is one of the Four Gentlemen 四君子 in Chinese ink painting. The stalk of the bamboo is hollow, which came to symbolize tolerance and open-mindedness. The flexibility and strength of the bamboo stalk also came to represent the integrity in which one yields but does not break.
Bamboo symbolizes the ideals of a Confucian scholar because both are perceived as upright, strong and resilient while still being gentle, graceful and refined.
Because it has a “hollow center” (空虚), bamboo also symbolizes “modesty” (谦虚) because the second character for both has the same pronunciation (xu).
Here are some pix of the different students in action, trying to capture the 意境 of the windy red bamboo.
It is such a fascinating plant and executing the strokes could well take a lifetime! 竹 画一生！
For further reading:
- Literati Painting