Friday, January 30, 2009

A Rattan Story

I was in good mood today especially after walking through the jungle behind my chalet where I singled out the rattan palms ( Calamus ornatus) for my photo adventure. Back from the half hour escapade I assembled an assortment of rattan products that I have around the house. The above items are almost exclusively made of rattan. On the chair is a bundle of rattan as they are normally taken out of the jungle. On top of it is a multi-purpose rattan basket. The chair is wholly made of rattan and painted black. On the right is a small rattan floor mat and for sure rattan mats can be made to whatever sizes you want. On top of the mat is a 'gendang' or a Melanau drum where the goatskin is stretched using rattan strings. On top of the drum is a 'parang' or machete where rattan is used as stringers to hold the machete cover. Finally towards the left is a rattan magazine rack and a rattan wastepaper basket.

Close Up of the 'Gendang' ( drum) where rattan is used to stretch the goatskin.

Rattans come in various sizes depending on the species. The above rattan stem is about 1 cm in diameter and can grow up to 10- 20 m long. The high demand for good species of rattan has induced further exploitation and intrusion into primary forests here which resulted in their deterioration and/or gradual disappearance.
Now to mitigate such calamity there are rattan plantations around Bintulu. The continual supply of rattan is therefore one component of the Malaysian economy one should not dismiss as the concern of botanists alone.

In the above species the thorns are about 4-6 cm long and are very sharp.
It is not difficult to guess that the word rattan is derived from the Malay word' rotan'. Minus the thorns, rattan canes are normally used to frighten naughty kids or in some instances as a device to cane them with.

Notice how the rattan stem have a long flagellum ( climbing whip) at its end to enable it to stick itself to jungle lianas or branches on their way up the tall jungle trees.

Another species of the rattan that is still at its young stage of growth. It is the tropical rainforests with its excellent shade, tall trees, humidity and moisture and profileration of dead leaves on the jungle floor, humus, ants, etc that provide the ideal environment for rattans to thrive.

Finally from yesterday's posting I have here a picture of the rattan fruits that are edible and can be eaten raw but having a very sour to bitter taste. It is worthwhile to note that seeds of the rattan may take 1-6 months to germinate.
I have so far preserved two vegetation islands behind my chalet where the original jungle environment has been undisturbed for posterity. These two islands cover and area of about an acre , which I feel suffucient to showcase the rich biodiversity of our tropical forest right behind my chalet. There are about 370 genus of the rattan making it the largest genus of the palm family. Here at my eco-farm I have planted oil palm trees surrounding the two vegetation islands. Thus when I am bored to see the oil palm trees I would walk through the jungle to discover more of its botanical wealth, rattans included.


Protege said...

Wow, this was very interesting. I have never seen rattan plants before. I have always loved rattan garden furniture, as it is very sturdy and can withstand the elements. But I also love the look of it.;)
So how do they make it look yellow and firm enough to build furniture out of it; the plants on your pictures are green. Is the rattan plant dried before use?
The fruits are amazing as well.;))

DRSP said...

wonderful post. and I think you know much enough about rattan

Nice to know your blog,

Rattan Furniture