Bamboo is the most versatile of China's natural resources, with dozens of everyday uses. Lu Xun recounts a tale dating from the Han dynasty in which a certain Wang Hui-chih is asked why he is planting bamboo. Wang replies, pointing to the bamboo, "Can one live a single day without this gentleman?"
The designs on bamboo Maozhang were sometimes hand painted, but more often were applied as a transfer. Because the design could not be heat fixed, as on ceramic badges, it was coated with a layer of clear varnish. Cut into small pieces and pressed almost flat, bamboo is much more susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity than either aluminium or porcelain. Consequently bamboo badges are often affected by warping or splitting. Furthermore, the varnishes tend to darken with age and sunlight, which gives most surviving examples a dull appearance.