Bamboo is a remarkable renewable resource. It is a material that for centuries has been and continues to be used by more than half the world's population for applications as varied as food, shelter, fuel and clothing. These applications make bamboo a vital non-timber, non-oil resource. With a tensile strength superior to steel, it is one of the most versatile and durable natural resources in the world.
Bamboo is sustainable! and plays an important role in reducing wood consumption, environmental and forest protection, poverty alleviation and sustainable development of rural economies. It is the fastest growing canopy for reforesting degraded lands and releases 35% more oxygen than equivalent wooden supports.
Bamboo is highly renewable. It is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth. Bamboo does not need replanting, grows without fertilizers or pesticides and is harvested from controlled supports with an incredible three to five year growth cycle. Bamboo is not a wood, but a kind of grass . Bamboo offers economic and ecological benefits vital to the lives of millions of people around the world; providing food, fuel, housing, furniture, craft products, and soil and water conservation.
- A long-lasting, fast-growing, truly renewable resource, it needs no replanting.
- A viable, high-yield replacement for wood and petroleum-based products.
- Important economic and ecological benefits, including soil and water conservation, jobs, numerous product and food applications, and over 1000 documented uses.
- Surprisingly short growth cycle, can be harvested in 3-5 years versus the 15-20 typical of many hardwoods.
- The fastest growing plant on the planet, some species can grow up to 1 meter or 3 feet a day.
- A critical element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
- An alternative renewable resource for agro-forestry production.
- Bamboo shoots provide a nutritional source of food that can be made into bread, cakes and cookies.
- Ecological reduction of pressure on forests through wood substitution.
- Products can be made in rural environments, reducing industrial and urbanization impacts.
- Bamboo is durable, tough and strong.
The raw material used to make native flutes varied according to the regions. There were flutes made from yucca stalks (a kind of agave), bamboo or cane and wood. Currently, wooden flutes are widespread on a larger scale, due to the ease of standardizing production processes with machines. I prioritize handcrafted production in bamboo, for several reasons, the first of which is that each flute is unique, has a personality, timbre and voice that will depend on the chosen bamboo and the energetic process of the making. All native cultures that geographically had access to varieties of cane and bamboo used them in their flutes, such as the Xiao in China, the Shakuhachi in Japan, the Bansuri in India, the Ney in Egypt, Iran and Turkey, the Quena in the countries Andean, and Native American flute. Bamboo is a sustainable vegetable, it grows very fast, has high resistance, and with it the production process requires little interference from machines. In the plant kingdom, bamboo belongs to the family of grasses and bushes that, according to the natives, are the hair of Mother Earth, it is a "Giver People" par excellence, and its structure and anatomy are ideal for this creation, bamboo is a gift from nature.
Bamboo flutes carry many meanings and energies, and one of them is the intimate relationship with the Water element. Bamboo pumps a lot of water to rise towards the sun. Some South Amerindian native flute origin stories are related to water spirits, rivers and fish. The stories and ritual symbologies of North Amerindians relate the flutes to rituals for invoking the “Thunder Beings” to bring rain. In the same way, when we play the native flutes, we feel a movement within us that is related to emotions – human aspect related to the element of water.
The river cane flute ( River Cane Flute) is a vital instrument in the culture and ceremonies of the people who lived on the banks of the Colorado and Gila rivers, such as the Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai, among others. In some myths about the origin of these peoples, a long bamboo pipe was used to pierce and allow the passage of beings from the underworld to the surface world where we live. The Hopi, to this day, preserve rituals where the Clan of the Flutes plays.
We work with some species depending on the type of flute and specific need. Our bamboo is harvested with respect, at the right times, it is dried in the ideal time and treated in the best way to guarantee its resistance and good acoustics. The correct maintenance and care of the flutist will also guarantee the durability and quality of this sacred instrument.
The Breckenridge Flute
The Breckenridge flute. Photo by Leslie Walker, Arkansas Archeological Survey, courtesy of The University of Arkansas Museum Collections.
The oldest known example of a Native American flute was found in northwest Arkansas. In the 1930s, Samuel Dellinger, curator of the University of Arkansas Museum, sent teams to excavate at various prehistoric cliff shelter sites on the Ozark Plateau. The Ozark Plateau, located in the present-day southeastern United States, was home to Native Americans as early as 10,000 BC until the early 1800's. These excavations unearthed many important artifacts, and due to the extremely dry conditions in many of these shelters, the stairs , such as basketwork, sandals and plant remains, were preserved and collected. Among these artifacts was a small piece of bamboo with holes drilled in its axis.
A photographic detail showing the Breckenridge flute in context during the 1933 excavations. Photo from the University of Arkansas Museum.
These artifacts are still curated in the collections of the University of Arkansas Museum. However, the perforated piece of bamboo ( river cane ) went unnoticed for nearly 80 years among the thousands of specimens in Dellinger's 1930s collections. In 2011, Arkansas Archeological Society volunteer Jim Rees identified it as a flute. This flute, recovered from the Breckenridge Shelter in Carroll County, is a river cane (bamboo) two-chamber flute flute. This is the variety of flute known today as the " Native American Flute ". It is more complicated than a simple pipe or whistle, which only produces one note, or a simpler form of flute that has only one chamber and requires the player to blow into the top of the opening. Whistles and simple flutes are played the way you would blow into a mouthpiece opening to produce a sound. Flutes like the Breckenridge flute are more complex. You blow directly into one chamber and the air is channeled over an opening in a second chamber that produces a sound.
Radiocarbon dates place the flute between about 900 and 1000 years old. This makes it the oldest flute of its kind found in North America to date.