Bamboo is a remarkable renewable resource. It is a material that for centuries has been and continues to be used by more than half of 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 forestry protection, poverty alleviation and sustainable development of rural economies. It is the fastest growing canopy for reforestation of degraded land and releases 35% more oxygen than equivalent wood supports.
Bamboo is highly renewable. It is one of the fastest growing plants on Earth. Bamboo doesn't need replanting, grows without fertilizers or pesticides, and is harvested from controlled stands with an incredible three to five year growth cycle. Bamboo is not a wood, but a grass species. 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 durable, fast-growing and truly renewable resource does not need replanting.
- A viable and high-yield replacement for wood and oil based products.
- Important economic and ecological benefits, including soil and water conservation, jobs, numerous product and food applications and more than 1000 documented uses.
- A surprisingly short growth cycle, it can be harvested in 3-5 years versus 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 by replacing wood.
- The products can be made in rural environments, reducing industrial and urbanization impacts.
- Bamboo is durable, resistant and strong.
The raw material used to make the native flutes varied according to the regions. There were flutes made of yucca stalk (a kind of agave), bamboo or cane and wood. Currently, wooden flutes are widely used, due to the ease of standardizing production processes with machines. I prioritize handcrafted bamboo production, for several reasons, the first one is that each flute is unique, has a personality, timbre and voice that will depend on the bamboo chosen and the energy process of the shape. All native cultures that geographically had access to varieties of cane and bamboo used them in their flutes, such as Xiao in China, Shakuhachi in Japan, Bansuri in India, Ney in Egypt, Iran and Turkey, Quena in countries Andean, and Native American flute. Bamboo is a sustainable vegetable, grows very fast, has high resistance, and with it the production process requires little interference from machines. In the Vegetal 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 element of Water. Bamboo pumps a lot of water up towards the sun. Some origin stories of native South Amerindian flutes are related to water spirits, rivers and fish. The stories and ritual symbols of North Amerindians relate the flutes to rituals invoking the “Thunder Beings” to bring rain. Likewise, when we play native flutes, we feel a movement within us that is related to emotions – human aspect related to the water element.
The river cane flute (River Cane Flute) is a vital instrument in the culture and ceremonies of the peoples who lived on the banks of the Colorado and Gila rivers, such as the Navajo, Hopi, Hualapai, among others. In some myths of origin of these peoples, a long bamboo pipe was used to pierce and allow the passage of beings from the underground world to the surface world where we live. The Hopi, to this day, preserve rituals where the Clan of Flutes plays.
We work with some species depending on the type of flute and specific need. Our bamboo is harvested with respect, at the appropriate times, 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 earliest 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 1800s. These excavations unearthed many important artifacts and, due to the extremely dry conditions in many of these shelters, the stairs , such as basketry, 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 cured in the collections of the University of Arkansas Museum. However, the perforated piece of bamboo (river cane) went undetected for almost 80 years among the thousands of specimens in Dellinger's 1930 collections. In 2011, at the Arkansas Archeological Society, volunteer Jim Rees identified him as a flute. This flute, recovered from the Breckenridge shelter in Carroll County, is a two-chamber duct flute of river cane (bamboo). This is the variety of flute known today as the “Native American Flute“. It is more complicated than a simple duct or whistle, which only produces one note, or a simpler form of flute that has only one chamber and requires the player to blow on top of the opening. Simple whistles and flutes are played the way you would blow over the mouthpiece opening to produce a sound. Flutes like the Breckenridge flute are more complex. You blow directly into one chamber and air is channeled through an opening in a second chamber that produces a sound.
Radiocarbon dates put the flute between 900 and 1000 years old. This makes it the oldest flute of its kind found in North America so far.