What is it exactly ? Where is he from ?

Rattan is a natural fiber obtained from a genus (notably Calamus) of palms belonging to the Arecaceae family. This kind of palm trees is very unusual.

It grows only in the dense, humid forests of Southeast Asia and Equatorial Africa. Its shape is not that of the palm tree that we imagine, it has robust stems which, in the form of gnarled and thorny lianas, climb on the surrounding vegetation and sometimes reach 200 meters long!

There are not one but 13 kinds of rattan and over 600 varieties, the majority found in the forests of Malaysia and Indonesia. The latter country is the main producer, a rattan culture has been present there for centuries.

The word rattan itself derives from the Malay rotang, designating the palm tree.

We generally visualize rattan with its beige color but it exists in several variations from the lightest yellow to raw brown. It depends on its variety and growing conditions.

Which varieties are used in basketry and how?

Basketry uses several varieties, chosen according to their colors and rigidity. The most sought after, and those we use at Alwan Créations, are the Tohiti and Manau varieties, which are naturally light yellow in color and which, once peeled, adopt a creamy beige color subject to all possible shades.

These varieties have, moreover, a superb density of their stems giving them perfect malleability for basketwork (furniture, lamps, bed, decoration, etc.).

The rattan stems are first barked to extract the marrow which is used to work in basketry. They are shaped in a steam mold to give them the characteristic round appearance and the correct diameter. Then, they are soaked in water to increase their malleability before finally sanding them manually to remove any defects.

The rattan used by Alwan Créations remains natural, no color is added at the end of the manufacturing process.

Rattan, wicker, bamboo, how to tell the difference?

Wicker looks a lot like rattan but does not have the same provenance and use. Rattan comes from gnarled palm trees, wicker comes from the supple willows of cold forests. Much thinner and less able to withstand heavy loads, wicker is used more for weaving.

A material also reputed to be solid, bamboo differs from rattan by its origin (Poaeceae family) and its composition, bamboo being hollow and rigid and therefore difficult to bend while rattan is full and flexible.

What are the advantages ?

Rattan has various advantages. It comes from a plant that grows quickly and whose size prevents other plants from growing, so harvesting it is beneficial to nature.

It is admirably strong while being flexible to allow the creation of a variety of creations and provide great seating comfort. In addition, natural rattan is aesthetic in itself while leaving the possibilities of dyeing it endless.

Finally, its maintenance is simple. Add a little water every once in a while and you’re good to go.

No matter how much we looked, we found few disadvantages to rattan …

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