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Rattan Raw Material in Indonesia

Rattan is a group of palms from the tribe Calameae that have a climbing habit, especially Calamus, Daemonorops, and Oncocalamus. The Calameae tribe itself consists of about six hundred members, with distribution areas in tropical Africa, Asia and Australasia. The family includes the genera Salacca (e.g. salak), Metroxylon (e.g. thatch/sago), and Pigafetta, which do not climb, and are not traditionally classified as rattan plants.

Rattan stems are usually slender with a diameter of 2-5 cm, with long fibers, not hollow, and many are protected by long, hard, and sharp spines. These spines serve as a means of self-defense from herbivores, as well as aiding climbing, since rattan is not equipped with tendrils. A rattan trunk can reach hundreds of meters in length. Rattan stems release water when cut and can be used as a means of survival in the wild. The Javan rhino is also known to eat rattan as part of its diet.

Most rattan comes from forests in Indonesia, such as Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Sulawesi, and Nusa Tenggara. Indonesia supplies 70% of the world’s rattan needs. The rest of the market is filled from Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh.

Rattan is fast-growing and relatively easy to harvest and transplant. This is considered to help preserve forests, as people prefer to harvest rattan over wood.


There are not too many rattan species commonly used in industry. Some of the most commonly traded are Manau, Batang, Tohiti, Mandola, Tabu-Tabu, Suti, Sega, Lambang, Blubuk, Jawa, Pahit, Kubu, Lacak, Slimit, Cacing, Semambu, and Pulut.

After cleaning from the thorny fronds, the raw rattan must be treated for preservation and protected from the Blue Stain fungus. Broadly speaking, there are two processes for processing rattan raw materials: Cooking with kerosene for medium/large sized rattan and Smoking with sulfur for small sized rattan.

Furthermore, rattan can be processed into a variety of raw materials, for example made Peel (peel)/Sanded Peel, polished/semi-polished, made core, phytite or star core. The center of the largest rattan handicraft and furniture industry in Indonesia is located in Cirebon.

The utilization of rattan (sp. Daemonorops Draco) is mainly as raw material for furniture to become one of the handicrafts of the Gorontalo community on Sulawesi Island, for example chairs, guest tables, and bookshelves. Rattan has several advantages over wood, such as light weight, strength, elastic/easy to shape, and cheap. The main disadvantage of rattan is that it is easily affected by “Pin Hole” powder bugs.

Rattan stems can also be made into walking sticks and weapons. Various martial arts schools teach how to fight using rattan stems. In some parts of Southeast Asia, rattan is used as a beating instrument in the caning of certain criminals.

Some rattans secrete sap (resin) from their flower stalks. This sap is red in color and is known in the trade as dragon’s blood. This resin is used to color violins or as a resin.

The Dayak people of Central Kalimantan utilize young rattan stems as a vegetable component.