Thu, Apr 15, 2010 - Page 15 News List

Bamboo toilet paper among exhibits at toilet exhibition 「屎礐仔」大展 上廁所請便


Have you ever seen a traditional toilet, of the kind used by people hundreds of years ago? Do you know what people used to wipe their bottoms with in days gone by? Your curiosity will be satisfied after visiting the toilet exhibition in Yilan County’s Dong Shan Township. The exhibition was organized by Jenju Village’s development association, which asked the village elders to build traditional toilets, and display an array of utensils that once served as toilet paper, such as pieces of bamboo. The exhibition lasts until the end of June.

In a time when toilet paper hadn’t yet been invented, all kinds of things were used in its place, including ropes, tree leaves, tree branches, stones, and even the leftovers of corn on the cob! Four interns from the social work program at the Chinese Culture University’s School of Continuing Education, as well as five others from National Yilan University did their homework and asked elders of the Jenju Village to make small pieces of bamboo sticks, another kind of “ancient toilet paper.”

In an era without toilet paper, naturally there also wasn’t any modern sanitary equipment. In the countryside, it was customary to dig a hole in the ground, then two wide wooden boards would be put over the top leaving some space between. Those who needed to go just stood across the space with a foot on either side of the wooden boards and let nature take her course. Of course, the toilet was hidden behind “walls” made of rudimentary materials, such as bamboo sticks, wooden boards, and covered with thatching.

The community published the results of their survey and invited village elders such as Chuang Jin-tien and Chen Cheng-kuei to build traditional toilets in the vegetable farm the community has “adopted.” They spent five days building a square toilet 2.36m high and 1.27m on each side. The walls of this new old-fashioned Taiwanese countryside toilet are made of bamboo and the roof is covered with thatching.

Visitors are not only allowed to “visit” this toilet, but they can also use it. However, there isn’t any toilet paper so visitors have to content themselves with the small pieces of bamboo sticks, just as their forebearers did.

When the exhibition first opened, a group of school kids had a quick look at the toilet. While they all wondered how people could possibly use a bamboo stick to wipe their bottom, they had fun getting to grips with the squat toilet.










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