Rattan

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A rattan cane.

Rattan (from the Malay and Indonesian word rotan) is a palm in the tribe Calameae. The term rattan usually refers to the material obtained from the stems of rattan palms. Rattan is native to the tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Australasia, and grows vine-like, scrambling through and over other vegetation.

Rattan material is cylindric, lightweight, and yellowish-beige or light brown colored. It is a type of cane and comes in diameters from a few millimeters up to 5-7 cm. Its main difference to other canes such as bamboo is that rattan is spongy-solid, not hollow, and very flexible. It is the special flexibility of rattan that makes it popular for a multitude of uses.

After harvesting, rattan is usually peeled to create a smooth surface and to remove the spines that some species have; in further processing, it is cut to the desired lengths. It is used for making furniture, baskets, carpet beaters, walking canes, staves for martial arts, and canes for corporal punishment (see caning). Rattan can be painted, like wood, but usually it is only transparently varnished to keep the natural look of the product.

Rattan canes are still used for judicial corporal punishment in Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, among other countries.

Most (70%) of the world's rattan population exists in Indonesia. The rest of the world's supply comes from the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

See also

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