The largest member of the grass family, bamboo grows very rapidly in a kind of tree shape. Unlike Malacca, bamboo is hollow. Lightweight, sturdy and durable, bamboo was used to make virtually anything, including canes, popular in the early 20th century. The canes from the Edwardian and Victorian periods featured shiny, polished bamboo with curved handles, and often embellished shafts. Bamboo canes sometimes had silver handles. Metal-topped canes were popular during this time and simple silver knob handles fitted to sectioned bamboo walking sticks are noted. Bamboo canes were sometimes oxidized to give the canes a fuller finish, and although bamboo is not scratch resistant, antique bamboo is usually found in good condition if the canes were well made and properly taken care of.
Although rarely seen anymore, bamboo was once used to make many different types of weapons. From blow guns to sword canes, bamboo made light but strong weapons for many centuries. Even gunpowder guns have been made with the hollow tubes.
Whangee refers to any of over forty Asian grasses of the genus Phyllostachys, a genus of bamboos. They are a hardy evergreen plant from Japan, China and the Himalayas whose woody stems were often used to make canes and umbrella handles. The word derives from the Chinese (Mandarin) huáng lí. It can also refer to a cane made from whangee. Charlie Chaplin’s character, The Little Tramp, is famously known for his whangee cane and John Steed, the dapper secret agent from television’s The Avengers, was known for carrying an umbrella with a whangee handle. See picture below.