Bamboo grows in the south of China and is characteristic for its green in either summer or winter. Although it is hollow inside and has joints in its outward appearance, bamboo is tall and solid in texture and always stands straight. Ancient Chinese often used bamboo in language to mean “the people of upright, haughty and aloof with high moral principle”.
But why is the person of virtue the association of bamboo? Bamboo is characteristic for its firm roots which imply the firm and indomitable spirit of a noble person. For its tall and straight outlook, bamboo is symbolic of “straightforwardness and impartiality” of a person; bamboo is also noted for its outward hard texture and the “inside hollowness”, which implies the “unselfishness” of a person; and lastly bamboo is featured for its “joints”, which imply here high moral principle and moral courage. Today the popular expression noble character and sterling integrity comes in fact fro the image of bamboo joints. So, people often associate gentlemen or persons of virtue “Xian Shi” with the noble quality of bamboo.
There are many collocations with bamboo but the more commonly used ones’ are zhubo and zhuma. Zhubo, literally bamboo slips and silk, was used for writing during ancient times, when there was no paper so the bamboo stick used as the media of writings. Zhuma, a bamboo-made toy horse, refers to the “friendship during childhood”. A very popular expression today is green plums and bamboo horse, which means “a girl and a boy play innocently together; a man and a woman who had an innocent affection for each other in childhood”.