« How to Downsize a Transport Network: The Chinese Wheelbarrow | Main | The solar envelope: how to heat and cool cities without fossil fuels »


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Sjarhei Karczewski


Супэр файны матэрыял! Мне заўсёды падабаліся такія рэчы, утрымліваючыя ў сабе цяплыню рук і душы чалавечай. Дзякуй / Super good stuff! I've always liked things like that contain the warmth of the hands and the human soul. Thank you :))

Jack S.


Wonderful piece. Some treatment of the significance of bamboo in eastern cultures as well would make it even stronger.



"... create a large variety of useful goods in a way that is one hundred percent sustainable."

But not, alas, able to solve the storage needs for a globe of more than six billion humans in an affordable way.

Kris De Decker


@ #3: why not?

James W


Interesting article about baskets. In Malaysia, in some of the rural places, people still weave bamboo into "bubu" (a Malay word) to trap fish. You can see a photo here http://www.flickr.com/photos/walism/5585378844/

Here's another photo of woven container that is still available http://jameswoo360.posterous.com/woven-basket

Also, perhaps you can update your article to include rattan furniture that are still in use today that uses rattan that's woven together.



Great article.

I remember learning about the native tribes of Southern California when I was a student, particularly their heavy use of basketry.

They made ocean-going canoes of wicker and asphaltum, domed homes of wicker and all sorts of baskets.

The most ingenious to my mind were their summer water baskets, which they weaved to be just slightly less than water-tight, so that the baskets would "sweat" when full. They'd then hang these baskets in a shady place with free airflow. Supposedly, the water inside would become quite cool due to evaporation, and would provide a welcome draught of refreshment on a hot day.



Updated link for the image "Traps for river crabs, made by Hiroshima Kazuro."



Wonderful article! It's amazing how useful these skills can be.

That said, I was disappointed that the article didn't mention skin-on-frame boatbuilding. The native folks in the arctic sure had a rough go of it: freezing water, sea ice, and no trees. They built boats according to their needs, and developed the skin-on-frame design. Essentially, it's a glorified basket frame covered with animal skins (canvas now), similar to the coracle mentioned in the article, but able to cope with much more intense situations. They trusted their lives to these basket-inspired boats in some of the most awful conditions on the planet. Pretty incredible.

Anyways, here are some links. Not only are they strong, flexible, and quick to build (couple of weeks!), but they're downright beautiful boats as well. Basket technology all the way!


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

News & Links

The Chinese Wheelbarrow

  • Chinese wheelbarrow
  • How to downsize a transport network: the Chinese wheelbarrow
    For being such a seemingly ordinary vehicle, the wheelbarrow has a surprisingly exciting history. This is especially true in the East, where it became a universal means of transportation for both passengers and goods, even over long distances.

Human Powered Cranes

  • Human powered crane
  • The sky is the limit: human powered cranes and lifting devices
    From the earliest civilisations right up to the start of the Industrial Revolution, humans used sheer muscle power, organisation skills and ingenious mechanics to lift weights that would be impossible to handle by most power cranes in operation today.

Wood Gas Vehicles

  • Wood gas cars 2
  • Firewood in the Fuel Tank: Wood Gas Vehicles
    Wood gas cars are a not-so-elegant but surprisingly efficient and ecological alternative to their petrol (gasoline) cousins, whilst their range is comparable to that of electric cars.

Hand Tools

  • Hand powered dril</a><br /></li>
							<li class=Hand Powered Drilling Tools and Machines
    Hand-powered devices have been used for millennia, but during the last quarter of the 19th century a radically improved generation of tools appeared, taking advantage of modern mass production machinery and processes (like interchangeable parts) and an increased availability in superior material (metal instead of wood).


Open Modular Hardware

  • Open modular hardware2
  • How to make everything ourselves: open modular hardware
    Consumer products based on an open modular system can foster rapid innovation, without the drawback of wasting energy and materials. The parts of an obsolete generation of products can be used to design the next generation, or something completely different.

Power from the Tap

  • Water motors
  • Power from the Tap: Water Motors
    Just before the arrival of electricity at the end of the nineteenth century, water motors were widely used in Europe and America. These miniature water turbines were connected to the tap and could power any machine that is now driven by electricity.

Aerial Ropeways

Other Languages

  • Some articles have been translated into French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. Find them here.