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Villagers Harvesting Rattan

The fine art of furniture making from sustainable, All Natural rattan and wicker is a time honored skill passed down from generations of craftsman in the South East regions of Asia. The individual time and pride invested in each piece along with the natural graining and color gives a One of a Kind beauty adding meaning to any living space.

Throughout the Asian Region, it is perhaps the village communities that benefit most from rattan.  Rattan gathering and weaving provide employment particularly to the indigenous and local people. Indonesia has by far, the highest number of home-based rattan enterprises spread across South Kalimantan, Cirebon and Central Sulawesi. In the Philippines tens of thousands of workers engage in the production of rattan furniture and handicraft.  Income received from weaving rattan is 75% higher than income received from farming.  There are approximately 852 square miles of rattan plantations in Asian countries.

What is Rattan?

Rattan Vines in ForestUnlike most wooden furniture that comes from the trunk and limb of trees, rattan furniture comes from a type of palm that grows like a vine.  There are over 300 species of rattan but only 30 of them are used for commercial purposes.  Like the limbs of most palms a rattan vine is spiny, with hundreds of small spikes growing outwards.  The spikes on a rattan plant act as hooks to aid the plant in climbing and latching to other plants while also serving as protection against herbivores.

What Makes Rattan "Green"?

Because Rattan vines are fast-growing, they are a natural renewable resource. The growth of rattan vines depends on healthy trees, instead of depleting them. Therefore harvesting rattan cane provides a profitable "green" alternative to timber logging. Because trees are left standing when rattan is harvested, the raw material can be classified as a non-forest product. Additionally, after harvesting the rattan pole, the palm plant remains in the ground and regrows very quickly.

What is the Difference Between Wicker & Rattan?

Most people use the word "wicker" or "rattan" to describe our style of tropical furniture interchangeably.  Many of our designs incorporate both wicker and rattan features. Rattan looks like a single pole and is the actual vine that was harvested, sanded and finished.  Wicker simply means anything woven and refers to the more detailed decor on a piece of furniture. Wicker can be made from small rattan poles, vines, resin or even metal.

Why is Rattan Good for Furniture Making?

Hand Weaving Rattan and WickerThe internal structure of a rattan pole is fibrous, much like a celery stalk. It is heated and steamed to bend, but when dried and cooled into shapes it is lightweight, durable and slightly flexible, but incredibly strong. It is perfect to sustain the weight and wear needed for furniture frames.  It is so strong in fact it is often used in making weapons for martial arts. Much like other woods, it will accept paints and stains desirable for home decoration. Additionally, since the grain of the wood is all parallel with the pole, Rattan is virtually non-porous along the length of the pole.  This makes it very resistant to moisture and humidity.  

Are Rattan and Bamboo the Same Thing?

Rattan and bamboo look similar but are distinctly different.  Bamboo is hollow.  Rattan is solid wood all through.  One way to tell if something is made from bamboo or rattan is to see if there is a curve in the pole. Bamboo is brittle and cannot be bent. Rattan is durable yet flexible, allowing it to bend. 

Where does Rattan come from?

Native to the tropical regions of Asia, Africa and Australia, 70% of the world's rattan currently grows in Indonesia; the remaining 30% is in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh. It is easier to harvest and transport than most tropical wood species and it provides great economic value to these areas.  

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