What Is Chinese Mat? -16 Types

A “mat” is a traditional summer item, typically woven from materials such as grass, bamboo, and flax. It provides a cool and comfortable surface during hot weather, helping people to sleep better. The use of “mat” has a long history and is widely employed globally.

what are Chinese mats?

A “mat” (凉席liang xi) is a traditional summer bedding item commonly used in China. It is made from various natural materials such as grass, bamboo, flax, and others, woven together to create a cool and comfortable surface. Liangxi is known for its breathability, moisture-absorption, and antibacterial properties, providing a refreshing surface that helps people sleep better during hot weather.

mat comes in various types, including grass-woven mats, bamboo-woven mats, flax mats, and paper mats, each with distinct characteristics and applications depending on the materials and crafting techniques used.

what are Chinese mats called?

A “mat” (席) can be referred to by various names, depending on the materials used and its intended purpose. For example, a mat woven from grass can be called a “grass mat,” “reed mat,” “bamboo mat,” or more recently, it is also commonly known as a “cooling mat.” A mat woven from rush grass can be called a “rush mat,” while one woven from papyrus grass can be called a “papyrus mat.” A mat woven with colorful patterns can be called a “decorative mat.”

Furthermore, there are different names for mats used for specific purposes and in various regions. For instance, there are “bed mats,” “pillow mats,” “sofa mats,” and “tatami mats,” each serving a specific function and named differently based on its use and regional variations.

what are Chinese mats made of?

Mats are made from a wide range of materials, and the selection may vary depending on the region and intended use. Bamboo is a common material used for making mats, known for its hardness, delicacy, and flexibility, making it suitable for crafting comfortable and cooling bamboo mats. Grasses such as straw and wheat straw are also common materials for mats, offering softness, moisture absorption, and coolness, making them popular choices for summer mats.

Rattan is a natural and sturdy material that can be woven into breathable and comfortable rattan mats. Flax, a natural fiber material, is known for its moisture absorption, breathability, and antibacterial properties, making it ideal for crafting refreshing and comfortable flax mats. Paper pulp, a synthetic material, is used to make paper mats, which are lightweight and easy to clean.

Apart from the mentioned materials, other materials like resin, wood pieces, and plastics can also be used to make mats, allowing for customization based on preferences and needs. Different materials offer distinct characteristics and performance, providing options to choose mats that suit individual preferences and requirements.

what are Chinese mats used of?

Mats are an ancient traditional Chinese furniture with a wide range of applications. In ancient times, mats were used to cover beds or floors, serving as cushions for sitting, lying, kneeling, and worshiping. Additionally, mats were used as cushions for various furniture pieces such as chairs, tables, and mattresses.

In modern times, mats have even broader applications. In households, mats can be used to cover beds, sofas, and floors, providing moisture resistance, non-slip properties, and insulation. In public places, mats can be used to create various carpets, floor mats, and tablecloths, offering non-slip, waterproof, and stain-resistant features. Moreover, mats can be utilized in the manufacturing of packaging materials and handicrafts.

Mats also play a role in summer cooling. They have a cooling effect due to the moisture-absorbing, breathable, and refreshing properties of their materials, such as bamboo, grass, and rattan, which can absorb body heat and lower indoor temperatures. Additionally, mats provide non-slip surfaces, preventing slipping during sitting, lying, kneeling, and other activities.

Using mats made of bamboo strips or reeds, among other materials, to sun-dry grains and other items. Sun-drying mats are usually woven from bamboo or grass, and they have the advantages of being lightweight, durable, and easy to store. In daily life, sun-drying mats are used to dry clothes, bedding, towels, and other items, effectively enhancing their dryness and cleanliness. Additionally, sun-drying mats can be placed on the ground to prevent moisture and repel insects.The use of sun-drying mats is very convenient, as they can be spread out in the sunlight to dry items and rolled up for easy storage and portability. When choosing sun-drying mats, one can select different sizes and materials to meet various needs.

Furthermore, mats offer moisture resistance, as their woven structure effectively prevents dampness from affecting the body. When using mats in summer, it is essential to keep them dry and clean, avoiding the growth of bacteria and mites. Regular cleaning and airing are also necessary to maintain the hygiene and health of the mats.

In conclusion, mats have a significant role in summer cooling, as they can absorb body heat, lower indoor temperatures, and provide non-slip and moisture-resistant features.

Finally, mats can also serve as ritual tools. In ancient times, mats were often used as kneeling mats during worship ceremonies. They help maintain cleanliness and solemnity during the worship activities.

Overall, mats are practical, environmentally friendly, and durable furniture items widely utilized in people’s daily lives.

styles of Chinese mats

There are many types of mats, including rattan mats, bamboo mats, grass mats, cowhide mats, and more. Linen summer mats, however, are emerging as a replacement and development trend for traditional mat products. Rattan mats, bamboo mats, and grass mats have a history of thousands of years in our daily lives, but they are sticky, non-breathable, and unhygienic, making them increasingly unsuitable for modern living, especially in air-conditioned rooms. The stiffness and low-grade feel of bamboo and grass mats are not accepted by modern people, and long-term use of bamboo mats, especially for the elderly and children, can lead to joint pain.

Therefore, the best alternative products are rattan mats and linen summer mats, which are soft, cool, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing. Compared to cowhide mats, linen summer mats are relatively more affordable and offer better hygiene performance. Linen is not only an excellent natural fiber material but also a valuable Chinese medicinal herb, recorded in various ancient Chinese medical books. It has the effects of warming the body, promoting blood circulation, removing blood stasis, dispelling wind and toxins, benefiting the liver and kidneys, and nurturing the skin. Particularly, it has excellent therapeutic effects when applied to skin treatments.

Straw Mat

Linen summer mats can absorb heat and sweat better than bamboo mats, grass mats, and hemp mats. They provide more sustained, gentle, and comfortable heat dissipation. Other mats tend to stick to the body when people sweat, causing extreme discomfort. Experiments have shown that linen fiber has strong antibacterial properties, while bamboo and grass mats can breed a large number of parasites in the sweat mud, causing significant harm to human health. Linen summer mats are as soft as bed sheets, more comfortable than bamboo and grass mats, easy to clean, and can be used for more than 20 years.

Linen mats do not have the hardness, roughness, and chilling feel of bamboo and jade mats, but they possess excellent hygiene and breathability. They are also convenient to store and have unique far-infrared properties that promote microcirculation in the body and relieve muscle tension.

Bamboo Mat: Bamboo mats are popular among most families for their cooling effect, good ventilation, and reasonable price.

Straw Mat: Straw mats are cool and comfortable to sit on, and are also durable.

Rattan Mat: Rattan mats combine the cooling effect of bamboo mats with the soft and smooth texture of straw mats. They are strong and durable.

Jade Mat: Jade mats have a soothing effect on the blood circulation and provide a healthy and comfortable sleeping experience.

Leather Mat: Leather mats are cool and comfortable to sit on, and provide a luxurious sleeping experience.

Pottery Bead Mat: Pottery bead mats are beautifully crafted and provide a soothing effect on the blood circulation.

Natural Buffalo Mat: Natural Buffalo mats have the function of treating insomnia, reducing temperature, and dispelling heat, among other medicinal benefits.

Hemp Fiber Mat: Hemp fiber mats not only have anti-bacterial and anti-mite properties, but also can be washed in a washing machine.

Bamboo Fiber Mat: Bamboo fiber mats are a truly eco-friendly fiber that is extracted from bamboo. They are known as “fiber that breathes” and are a new addition to the family of mats. The fibers have a beautiful luster and unique anti-bacterial and anti-mite properties, and are the best in terms of breathability among all fibers. Using bedding products made of bamboo fiber during the hot summer brings a comfortable and smooth feeling.

Cowhide Mat

Cowhide mat is a noble member of the mat family, favored by consumers for its luxurious and elegant style. Good cowhide mats are made from high-quality and healthy whole pieces of water buffalo hide aged between 6 to 8 years, which provides excellent flexibility. This natural water buffalo hide has four main functions: breathability, heat dissipation, sweat absorption, and moisture resistance. When used in air-conditioned rooms during summer, it can adjust the comfort level according to body temperature, making it beneficial for the elderly, weak individuals, and those with shoulder or joint problems. Moreover, cowhide mats are durable, resistant to insects, and can last up to a hundred years. They become cooler and softer with prolonged use.

Bamboo Charcoal Mat

Bamboo charcoal mats are specially processed bamboo with the properties of dust absorption, air purification, and a cool and pleasant feel. Many people may be intimidated by their black appearance, thinking that prolonged use might stain them. However, the surface of bamboo charcoal mats undergoes a special oxidation process, preventing such issues. Additionally, bamboo charcoal mats have antibacterial and deodorizing functions due to the charcoal burning process, making them cooler and more sweat-absorbent compared to regular mats, suitable for people who are particularly sensitive to heat.

Rush Mat

Rush mats are made from perennial herbaceous plants called rush, which offer various health benefits. They possess moisture absorption and release capabilities. When the temperature is high, the rush mat absorbs moisture through countless pores, and during dry weather, the rush’s sponge-like interior automatically releases stored water, creating a dual humidity cycle that provides a cool feeling in summer and avoids extreme coldness in winter. Rush mats can be woven into various patterns, including jacquard and embroidered designs, making them beautiful and foldable for travel and leisure purposes.

Rattan Mat

Rattan mats constantly innovate in craftsmanship, becoming the main choice for bedding this summer. Modern textile techniques are used to weave rattan mats into popular patterns and colors while providing antibacterial and mite-resistant functions. Particularly, the application of nanotechnology imparts a water-repellent feature, making the mats less hospitable to bacteria and providing stain and oil resistance. As a result, rattan mats with nanotechnology are more popular.

Old Rattan Mat

Old rattan mats are known for their sturdiness, smoothness, wear resistance, and lightweight. They are made without using any chemical substances and are finely handwoven, offering beneficial effects for those with rheumatism, back pain, or discomfort from air conditioning. However, compared to other mats, old rattan mats may have a more traditional design, appealing more to middle-aged and elderly consumers.

Mahjong Cooling Mat

The main drawbacks of a mahjong cooling mat are its heaviness and difficulty in storage when not in use. It may also become challenging to replace the bamboo boards once they crack. Nonetheless, the price is relatively lower. When purchasing a mahjong cooling mat, one should choose those with light textures and inconsistent colors. If the color is uniform, it is an inferior product coated with varnish.


Breathable, cool, non-sticky, and non-curling, making it an excellent option for preventing heat and cooling in hot summer and autumn seasons. The colorful mahjong tiles have a smooth surface, providing a cool and comfortable feeling.

It has anti-static, anti-breakage, strong breathability, and good water resistance, beneficial for maintaining healthy skin. It is soft and suitable for placing on mattresses or soft pads. It has the function of absorbing carbon dioxide, purifying the air, and promoting metabolism.

It has health benefits. When lying or sitting on it, the body’s different acupoints are massaged through rolling and squeezing movements.

It is convenient to use, foldable, easy to store, and resistant to mildew and pests. The firm and solid connection make it an excellent gift for relatives and friends.

Long shelf life, with a usage span of 15-20 years!


Heavyweight makes it challenging to carry around, but as a household item, it does not require frequent movement.

The extreme coolness may not be suitable for weak elderly individuals.

Inadequate craftsmanship may cause hair or flesh to be pinched.

Sleeping for one night may leave marks on the body.

The main production area is Yiyang City, Hunan Province. In the early period, there were more productions in Fujian and Zhejiang. However, after the 2008 financial crisis and the increase in environmental requirements and labor costs, many productions have been shifted or suspended. Yiyang City is the main producer of mahjong cooling mats.

Ivory Mat

The characteristics of ivory, being both hard and brittle, make it difficult to imagine using it for weaving mats. The existence of three remaining ivory mats astonishes people about the exquisite craftsmanship of ancient times.

According to historical records, ivory mats were produced during the reigns of Emperor Yongzheng and Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1723-1735). They were local officials’ tribute to the imperial court in Guangdong. The specific production methods have been lost to history. According to an old craftsman’s account, this type of product could only be made in the southern regions because the northern climate is relatively dry, making ivory easy to break when split into pieces, let alone woven into mats. Besides, a special solution was probably prepared at that time to soak the ivory to soften it before slicing it into thin pieces for weaving. Overall, the process was quite complex and the cost was extremely high, so Emperor Yongzheng, who emphasized frugality, ordered to cease production.

The history of ivory mats is quite ancient, with records of Han Wu Di giving “ivory mats” to his beloved Li Furen in “Xi Jing Za Ji”. Ivory mats woven from ivory threads have fine and even texture, a smooth surface, softness, and comfort. They can be easily rolled up, providing a cooler and more pleasant feeling when used in summer than grass mats or bamboo mats, making them important tributes of that time. During the era when sitting on mats was a prevalent custom, it was entirely natural for Emperor Wu Di to bestow precious ivory mats upon his beloved concubine. “Han Wu Shi Biography” in “Wei Shu” records: “Han Wu served as the governor of Zhizhou and presented seven treasures, including ivory mats.” “Ge Zhi Jing Yuan” states: “Che Yong served as the governor of Guangzhou, and his son had many workers making ivory mats, which the local people disliked.” This indicates that ivory mats have been made since the Han Dynasty.

The production of ivory mats is different from other ivory products and involves a very complex process. The most difficult and tedious process is splitting the ivory into uniformly thick and narrow slices and then grinding them to a clean gloss before weaving. Since ivory has grain, and the grain makes it elongated in a particular direction, it is only when following the direction of the ivory grain that it can be split into filamentous pieces without breaking. Therefore, the requirement to saw and slice ivory along the grain is not an easy task. Furthermore, this kind of processing method is very wasteful of materials. Taking the production of ivory chopsticks as an example, in order to saw the ivory material into plate-like pieces, then saw them into long strips, and find rules, the utilization rate of ivory material is only 40% to 60%. If the ivory material is split into bamboo-like strips and then sliced into filaments, the utilization rate of the ivory material is less than 10%. This is also the reason why ivory mats are so precious. This is also the reason why the son of the governor of Guangzhou “had many workers making ivory mats, which the local people disliked.”

Famous mat

Water Bamboo Mat: A traditional specialty produced in Yiyang, China. It has a history of over 600 years, originating from the late Yuan and early Ming dynasties. Water bamboo is the main material used for making these mats, with some also woven from small bamboo. Water bamboo from Yiyang and Taojiang areas grows near water and in damp places, with smooth surface, soft and tough fibers, and sparse and flat joints, making it suitable for weaving. The production process involves breaking and steaming the bamboo, soaking it in water, rough processing, fine scraping, and removing the surface layer. Skilled artisans create various patterns and designs such as herringbone, lattice, phoenix tail, plum blossom, interlocking patterns, as well as various floral, bird, insect, figure, landscape, calligraphy, and painting patterns. There are more than ten varieties, including sleeping mats, pillow mats, and various chair cushions. The well-crafted water bamboo mat has been praised as “thin as paper, bright as jade, smooth as water, soft as silk,” with delicate texture, smooth surface, beautiful patterns, elegant colors, sweat-absorbing and cooling properties, comfort, durability, and it is not only exquisite daily items but also art pieces for display. In 1955, the “World Peace” floral mat from Yiyang won the Silver Award at the Leipzig International Exhibition in Germany; in 1979, the “Yiyang Brand” water bamboo mat was rated as a high-quality product in the national light industry; in 1981, the “Panda Brand” water bamboo mat won the National Arts and Crafts Silver Cup Award. The products are sold in Europe, America, and Southeast Asian countries and regions.

Libo Mat: Produced in Dongtang, Jiuan, Yongkang, Yaosuo, and other townships of Libo County, where the abundant supply of high-quality bamboo provides excellent raw materials for weaving mats. The history of Libo mats dates back to the Daoguang period of the Qing Dynasty, with over 100 years of history. Utilizing the natural patterns and gloss of bamboo green and bamboo spring, Libo mats are carefully woven, featuring exquisite beauty, simplicity, and elegance. They are smooth, soft, and foldable, making them easy to carry around. Also known as “Ni Jiao Jiao,” Huangping Ni Shao, which is produced in Huangping, Guizhou. White clay is kneaded and beaten repeatedly, and then shaped based on the artisan’s artistic conception and rich imagination. After creating the shape, the clay is hollowed using a whistle stick and fired in a kiln at temperatures ranging from 300 to 400 degrees Celsius. Colored patterns and designs are then painted with watercolor pigments, and finally coated with clear lacquer to make it smooth and shiny. The shapes mainly depict animals, including cows, sheep, deer, chickens, frogs, pangolins, peacocks, and pheasants, with more than a hundred varieties. The forms are concise and bold, and the colors are vivid.

Anyue Mat: A famous product from Sichuan Anyue, mainly produced in Yuanba Township, is a well-known handicraft. Among them, the small flower and fine mats are particularly famous, with various patterns and calligraphy woven into them. Anyue mats are finely woven, aesthetically pleasing, sturdy, and practical, making them highly popular among the masses.

Ivory Woven Mat: A living item made of ivory during the mid-Qing Dynasty. It measures 216 centimeters long and 139 centimeters wide, with a rectangular shape. The mat is made of ivory, with a clean and delicate surface, smooth and even texture, soft and comfortable feel. The back of the mat is wrapped with crimson silk brocade, bordered with blue silk edges. It is suitable for use during hot summer days to avoid the heat. Due to its complex production process and high material and time costs, very few surviving pieces of ivory mats remain, with this one being one of the few. It is currently housed in the Forbidden City Palace Museum.

Ivory Woven Mat

Chinese mats history

Since the Stone Age, “mat” has been one of the commonly used household items. From the early days of the slave society, the people of China began to pay attention to etiquette. At that time, they would hide their mats in very discreet places every morning because it was considered impolite to let others see their mats. Starting from the late period of the slave society, people’s sitting furniture was divided into two types: “yan” and “xi.” “Yan” was woven from rushes or reeds, and it had a larger area, while “xi” used more delicate materials and had a smaller area. Before the Tang and Song Dynasties, there were no high-raised utensils such as tables and chairs. The ancients would sit on the ground for conversations, writing, and meals. The only thing to pay attention to was to lay mats on the ground, similar to what we see in Japanese and Korean households. Because they sat on the mat directly on the ground, we also say “sitting cross-legged on the mat.” Since the ancients attached great importance to etiquette, laying mats also had its rules and regulations, with strict requirements for emperors, nobles, scholars, and common people. Generally, whether entertaining guests or having family meals, they would place a low table on the laid mat. Depending on the status and identity, the number of mats varied. The mat laid underneath was called “yan,” and the one placed on top was called “xi.” Together, they were called “yanxi,” which gradually evolved to refer to the act of serving meals. This gave rise to synonyms such as “feast” and “banquet,” and phrases like “set the table” and “set the feast.” Originally, the mat laid on the ground could indicate the host’s status and identity. However, in modern life, it has become less important. Northerners only use cooling mats in summer for comfort when sitting or lying down, while Southerners may use them more frequently. But from this mat, many important concepts have emerged. For example, “chairman,” originally meaning “the main seat on the mat”; “seat,” which originally meant “a position on the mat,” has become a position in modern times in a group or assembly. Other words like “attend,” “take a seat,” “be seated,” “leave the seat,” “absent,” etc., all originated from the mat but have little to do with mats in today’s context.

Rattan mats

when invented Chinese mats?

The origin of mats can be traced back to the Stone Age when people began using simple tools and materials to make mats. The earliest mats might have been simple pads woven from grass or tree branches, primarily used for sitting, lying, and as bedding. Over time, people mastered more weaving techniques and materials, leading to the enrichment and diversification of mat quality and styles.

In ancient times, mats were indispensable items in people’s daily lives and were used in various occasions, including banquets, ceremonies, and meetings. Due to their lightweight, durability, and easy storage, mats became essential items for ancient people during migration and travel.

Apart from being daily necessities, mats also carry rich cultural connotations. In traditional Chinese culture, mats are regarded as symbols of etiquette and civilization, holding a high status. In ancient times, the production and laying of mats were subject to strict rules and rituals, and mats of different specifications and styles were used by individuals of different statuses and positions.

Mats are one of the earliest pieces of furniture used by humans. During the ancient cave-dwelling period, early ancestors needed something to provide comfort and protection against insects and dampness, so they used materials like straw, leaves, bark, or animal skins as mats for sitting and lying down. Later, they learned to weave mats using plants like reeds, bulrushes, and bamboo, creating practical and aesthetically pleasing mats. Mats became closely related to the development of agriculture as well, as crops needed to be dried or stored, and mats proved useful for these purposes.

The exact time of the appearance of mats is difficult to determine. The most primitive reed mats were found in the Neolithic period, dating back to around six to seven thousand years ago. These mats, discovered at the Hemudu site in Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, China, measure 50 centimeters in length, 20 to 40 centimeters in width, and 0.2 centimeters in thickness. Carbon-14 dating indicates that they originated between 6645 and 6775 years ago in the Neolithic era. The residue on the surface of the mat did not contain any food remains, and considering its fragmentary shape and relatively large size at the time of excavation, it was likely used as a mat for covering or padding. Plant-based woven items tend to decay quickly when buried underground, making long-term preservation challenging. However, these mats were fortunate as they were buried in an environment with abundant groundwater, resulting in a relatively oxygen-deprived and enclosed condition, allowing them to survive for thousands of years and be discovered intact.

By the middle to late Neolithic period, mat-making techniques had become quite mature. Not only were there a variety of weaving materials and techniques, but the craftsmanship had also become more sophisticated. At the Qianshan Yang site in Wuxing, Zhejiang Province, China, dated to the Neolithic era, archaeologists discovered maturely woven bamboo items such as baskets, sieves, and mats, with the bamboo mats using twilled weaving patterns with two warp and two weft or multiple warp and weft. The earliest recorded historical mention of mats in China is found in the book “Yi Shi Ji Shi” which records that “Shennong made a mat as an offering.” During the Shang Dynasty, the use of grass mats became widespread. In the book “Tai Gong Liu Tao,” it is mentioned that during the time of King Jie, women would sit on mats made of fine silk and wear clothing made of linen and silk. During the Jin Dynasty, Wang Jia wrote in “Shi Yi Ji” about the use of jade and other precious objects on blue mats. Later, people began decorating the edges of the mats with patterns or using silk and linen to wrap the edges. Records show that “Emperor Yu made a lectern decorated with jade, which was quite extravagant, and there were 33 states that did not comply. He then made an embroidered mat, which was even more extravagant, and there were 53 states that did not comply.” Thus, using silk and linen for making lecterns was considered a very luxurious act during that time.

who first invented Chinese mats?

According to legend, a long time ago, there was a man named Yao HuanKui in the local area. He went up the mountain to chop firewood but forgot to bring a rope to tie the wood. While worrying about how to bundle the firewood, he saw a patch of bamboo grove on the opposite mountain. He then went to cut a piece of bamboo and split it into fine bamboo strips, which he twisted into a rope to tie the firewood. To his surprise, he found that the fine bamboo strips were soft and flexible like hemp, yet strong and unbreakable. From then on, Yao HuanKui frequently used fine bamboo to tie firewood or other things. Later, many others in the area learned about this use of fine bamboo and began cutting bamboo, splitting it into strips, and using them as ropes as well. Through gradual development, people started using these bamboo strips to weave straw shoes, bamboo baskets, and other items.

The Liu family has been a generation of bamboo artisans, renowned far and wide for their craftsmanship. The presence of Liu family bamboo mats can be found all over the Bamboo Sea of TaoHua River. The superior quality of Liu family bamboo mats can be attributed to an accidental experience. At that time, the bamboo mat craftsmen used bamboo that was two to three years old, taking advantage of its tenderness, low cost, and ease of shaping. One day, merchants from the capital came to Taohua Jiang to purchase bamboo mats. Impressed by the local mats’ excellent quality, they bought almost all of the local mats in one go. As a result, the craftsmen had a booming year and made a lot of mats, depleting the two-year-old bamboo from the bamboo grove. The ancestors of the Liu family decided to use the old bamboo, which had previously been difficult to use due to high cost and challenging shaping, to make mats. Surprisingly, the mats made from this batch of old bamboo turned out to be even cooler, more durable, and with a better luster than before. It was simply “remarkable.” Thus, the tradition of using only mature old bamboo from the bamboo grove to make mats has been passed down in the Liu family.

Jade Mat

how to make Chinese mats?

The method of making mats varies depending on the region and materials. Here are some common manufacturing methods:

Bamboo Selection: Select bamboo with the same diameter to ensure that the bamboo mats not only have a more pleasing appearance but also are durable.

Bamboo Drying: Drying the bamboo helps remove moisture and makes the bamboo more flexible, suitable for handcrafted bamboo mats.

Bamboo Stripping: After drying, use a scraper to remove the bamboo skin, making it smoother and ready for the next processing step. Care should be taken during the stripping process to avoid damaging the natural environmental protection measures and causing significant injury to the bamboo surface.

Bamboo Splitting: Divide the bamboo into equal and uniform pieces, based on different processing stages and the intended final use.

In summary, making mats involves selecting suitable materials and tools and following a specific manufacturing process for weaving and processing, ultimately producing mats that meet the desired requirements.

Storage of Cool Mats

While selecting cool mats, it is also important to pay attention to their use and storage methods to ensure their proper condition for the next year. Here are several storage methods introduced by salespeople in the store:

Grass Mats: Grass mats are prone to mites. Before use and storage, it is best to expose them to sunlight, pat them repeatedly, wipe off the dust with warm water, and then let them dry in a cool place. When reusing old grass mats the next year, wipe them with disinfectant or wash off mold spots with soapy water.

Bamboo Mats: Before use, soak the mats in warm water at around 30℃ with some cleaning agent and scrub them with a soft brush to prevent direct pricking from the bamboo. After scrubbing, rinse with boiling water and let them dry before use. During cleaning, avoid folding the mats at sharp angles to prevent breakage.

Striped Bamboo Mats: These mats are used for uneven surfaces or larger than the bed, making them susceptible to damage. When laying bamboo mats, keep the bed surface flat to avoid damage. Before storage, scrub the cool mats with clean water to remove dirt, then let them dry in a cool, ventilated place. Afterward, roll them up and wrap them with paper, storing them in a dry and well-ventilated place. Also, pay attention to rolling the mats with the surface facing outward to prevent mold or insect damage, and avoid rolling them too tightly to prevent damage. Do not expose the mats to direct sunlight for disinfection after washing, as this may make the grass or bamboo brittle and shorten the lifespan.

Mahjong Bamboo Cool Mats: Before use, clean the front side carefully with warm water at around 30℃ with some cleaning agent, then wipe several times with warm water, and let them air dry. When the weather is hot and dry, dry them in the shade, avoiding prolonged exposure to prevent the bamboo strips from becoming brittle and breaking. Avoid scalding the mahjong cool mats with hot water to prevent the joints and strings from becoming brittle.

Flax Mats: Before washing, soak the mats in water at 30℃ to 40℃ for 10 minutes, and then hand wash gently without wringing too hard. Flatten the mats and let them air dry naturally. If using a washing machine, use the wrinkle-resistant function and avoid machine dehydration. It is recommended to avoid machine washing if possible.

Leather Mats: Regularly clean the mat surface with a slightly damp towel, but avoid direct exposure to sunlight or open flames. Do not wash with water. If there are stains, gently wipe them off with a damp towel. No special maintenance is required.

what are Chinese mats symbolize?

Mats hold significant symbolic meanings in culture, representing the peace, harmony, unity, and happiness within a family.

In traditional culture, “sitting” and “meditation” are closely intertwined. “Sitting meditation” is a practice to settle one’s mind and cultivate moral character through sitting. Therefore, mats also symbolize maintaining inner calmness, peace, and steadfast beliefs while pursuing inner beauty, truth, goodness, and virtue. Naming a child “Mat” carries the beautiful wishes and expectations for the child’s future living space and inner state.

Furthermore, mats also carry the connotation of “receiving a child with joy,” making them a symbol of auspiciousness in wedding celebrations. Crafting personalized mats for weddings signifies a life of prosperity, harmony, and early blessings for the newlyweds, while also holding sentimental commemorative significance.

In conclusion, mats possess abundant symbolic meanings and connotations in culture, representing family harmony, unity, happiness, and well-wishes.

Mat and Chinese sitting posture

The history of mats in China is extremely ancient. Approximately 7000 years ago, early humans sought to improve the comfort of sitting and lying down, and to protect against dampness and cold, so they made mats using materials such as straw, leaves, and animal skins, thus inventing the earliest form of seating mats.

During the Xia Dynasty and beyond, craftsmen used bamboo rafts and Qingpu tuan (a type of bamboo) to create thick cushions for sitting.

Since mats were highly valued by people at that time, they also symbolized social status. Generally, only the ruling class could afford mats, while ordinary people often had to sit on the ground.

During the Western Zhou Dynasty, new types of mats were invented, but overall, grass mats, bamboo mats, and animal skin mats remained popular.

In the period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties, the country was in a state of constant warfare and political upheaval, resulting in a significant ethnic integration. During this period, Buddhism was introduced into China by foreigners and became popular among the local people, challenging the traditional Confucian status and ritual culture.

Under the influence of various factors, elevated seating furniture started to emerge, and chairs, stools, and low beds became popular among the common people, exerting a strong impact on the traditional practice of sitting on the floor.

With the appearance of chairs and low beds, a sitting posture called “垂足而坐” (literally “hanging feet while sitting”) became mainstream, which is quite similar to the modern sitting position and is very comfortable.

Under the influence of Buddhist culture, a type of stool with a circular top and a concave center called “墩” (dun) also became popular. During its spread and application, people invented square stools and hollow low stools based on this design.

Although “墩” and square stools enjoyed great popularity during the Wei-Jin period, they were eventually replaced by chairs and stools due to their limited practicality.

During the Wei-Jin and Northern and Southern Dynasties, most people still adhered to sitting on the floor, but a few upper-class families began to frequently use elevated seating furniture. With further cultural exchanges among different ethnic groups, the Central Plains people gradually accepted the practice of sitting on low beds and hanging their feet.

From the Wei-Jin period to the Tang Dynasty, both ordinary people and the royal family alternated between sitting on the floor and sitting with their feet down, and this alternating period lasted for several hundred years in Chinese history. It was not until the Song Dynasty that this situation began to change.

During the Song Dynasty, elevated furniture gradually replaced mats and was accepted by the common people. The transition from sitting on the floor to sitting with feet down was completed, and the sitting posture of “垂足而坐” gradually became fixed in the Song period.

Mahjong Cooling Mat

Chinese mats story

Mozi, in order to prevent the powerful state of Chu from attacking the weak and impoverished state of Song, traveled a long distance, wearing tattered straw shoes and carrying a simple meal, to personally persuade Gongshu Ban, the craftsman who manufactured advanced weapons like the cloud ladder for Chu, and also the Chu King who was determined to attack Song.

Mozi was a descendant of the noble family Mu Yi from the state of Song and served as a high official in Song. It is noteworthy that despite his position as a high official, he sat on a tattered mat, a detail recorded in historical documents to highlight his humble and challenging life. The fact that a high official like Mozi sat on a worn-out mat was considered unusual at the time and demonstrated his commitment to the principle of “non-aggression,” as Publican Gao understood when he saw Mozi’s living condition.

Later on, mats were divided into “席” (xí) and “簟” (diàn). Some mats were used for warmth in winter, made of materials such as papyrus and reeds, which were soft and gentle. On the other hand, “簟” (diàn) was used in summer and was also known as “夏簟” (xià diàn), with a cool and refreshing texture. It was exclusively made from bamboo strips and was one of the highest-grade materials of that time. “夏簟” (xià diàn) was mostly used as bedding and was typically reserved for kings and nobles during the Pre-Qin period.

In the Wei-Jin period, the writer Zuo Si mentioned in his work “Wu Du Fu” that “桃笙象簟,韬于筒中,” which referred to mats woven from peach reeds and adorned with ivory, stored in tubes. This illustrates the high standards demanded in the crafting of handiworks, which not only served functional purposes but also emphasized beauty and delicacy.

Another type of mat was called “黄琉璃” (huáng liú lí), crafted with even more delicate workmanship. Bamboo strips were finely polished before weaving, resulting in intricate patterns and a color resembling yellow glass, hence the name “黄琉璃” (huáng liú lí). Such mats were mostly used by high-ranking officials and the aristocracy as bedding.

In Su Dongpo’s poem “Nan Xiang Zi,” he describes: “凉簟碧纱厨,一枕清风昼睡馀。睡听晚衙无一事,徐徐,读尽床头几卷书.”

The lines depict the comfort of sleeping on a cool mat with blue silk curtains, feeling the gentle breeze during the day. Waking up, there are no official duties in the evening court, and leisurely, he reads several scrolls of books by the bedside.

Overall, the poetic lines capture the tranquility and elegance of lying on a cool mat, surrounded by silk curtains, and enjoying a moment of peaceful reading.

Cutting the mat and breaking off relations

Guan Ning and Hua Xin were weeding in the garden when they noticed a piece of gold on the ground. Guan Ning continued to wield his hoe, treating the gold as indistinguishable from a piece of tile or stone. On the other hand, Hua Xin picked up the gold with delight but then threw it away. Later, they sat together on the same mat reading books. As a person dressed in formal attire and riding in a carriage with an awning passed by, Guan Ning continued reading as before, while Hua Xin put down his book to observe the passing individual. Feeling disappointed with Hua Xin’s behavior, Guan Ning cut the mat, separating it into two pieces, and said, “You are no longer my friend.”

The etiquette of ancient people using mats

In ancient times, there were various types of mats:

Mats made of grass: These were woven from materials like rushes or reeds and were relatively coarser in texture.

Mats made of bamboo: These were woven from bamboo and were considered more refined compared to grass mats.

Mats made of animal skin: Mats made from animal skin were rare and considered more valuable.

According to their functions, mats were categorized into two types: sitting mats and sleeping mats. Sitting mats were used as seating furniture, while sleeping mats were used as bedding.

In ancient times, the term “筵席” (yán xí) was often used to refer to mats. However, “筵” and “席” have distinct differences. “筵” refers to larger mats woven from papyrus or reeds, while “席” refers to smaller mats with finer materials.

The edges of ancient mats were often adorned with decorative patterns, referred to as “纯” (chún). These patterns varied, and some mats had silk borders for embellishment.

There were different types of mats mentioned in historical records. For example, the “莞席” (guǎn xí) was made from a type of papyrus called “水葱” (shuǐ cōng). The “缫席” (sāo xí) was a type of grass mat with colored patterns woven from papyrus and silk threads. The “次席” (cì xí) was woven from peach branch bamboo. The “蒲席” (pú xí) was made from papyrus. The “熊席” (xióng xí) was a special mat made from bear skin and used by the emperor during hunting or military campaigns.

Besides these, there were also other types of mats like “藁席” (gǎo xí), made from straw or grain stalks, and “文茵” (wén yīn), made from tiger skin and used as a cushion for carriages.

Overall, mats in ancient times served various purposes and were made from different materials, reflecting the diversity of the culture and lifestyle of that era.

The Etiquette of Mats in Ancient Times

In ancient times, when entertaining guests, it was customary to lay out mats. Before sitting down, guests would carefully observe whether the mats were properly arranged. If they were not, it was considered impolite to sit on them. For banquets, before dining, guests would first adjust their seating positions before starting the meal. As Confucius stated in the “Analects,” “When the mat was not laid straight, he would not sit down. When the food was not properly placed, he would not eat until it was tasted by him first.”

The term “席子” (xí zǐ) refers to mats or carpets used for seating or sleeping. They had a head end and a tail end, with the head end being the top and the tail end being the bottom. The direction and orientation of the mat were essential factors in its proper use and placement.

In formal occasions, mats were arranged differently depending on whether they were used for daily life or for ceremonial purposes. For offerings to the gods, the mat would be placed with its head end facing south or north and the top being the west. In other settings, the mat would be oriented differently, with the top being east. In rooms, mats for gods would face east or west, and for people, they would face south or north.

There were three main types of seating arrangements for mats:

独席 (dú xí) or single mat: This was a single mat used by a distinguished individual. It was placed in such a way that the head end was at the top, and it was often reserved for the most honored guest.

连席 (lián xí) or continuous seating: This arrangement involved multiple individuals sitting on the same mat. The most respected person would sit at one end, and if there were more than four people, additional mats would be added. The seating should follow the principles of seniority, and no great difference in rank should be allowed, as it would be considered disrespectful to the higher-ranking individuals.

对席 (duì xí) or facing mat: This arrangement involved two people sitting opposite each other on separate mats, facilitating conversation or discussion. This type of seating was used for guests discussing scholarly matters.

In addition to these arrangements, there were various other etiquettes and rules related to seating. For instance, fathers and sons should not sit on the same mat, and men and women should not sit together. Also, married women who visited their natal family should not sit together with their brothers-in-law. These practices were rooted in ancient customs and social norms.

According to historical records, during the Pre-Qin period, mats were categorized based on the “Five Ranks” principle of ceremonial rites. As mentioned in the “Record of Rites,” the emperor’s mats had five layers, feudal lords had three layers, and high-ranking officials had two layers. This indicates that the use of mats was closely related to one’s social status.

In the “Rites of Zhou,” the official in charge of arranging mats and setting up tables was responsible for differentiating mats and tables according to specific occasions, ranks, and positions. The “Five Tables” mentioned include jade tables, carved tables, red tables, lacquered tables, and plain tables. The “Five Mats” include mats made from various types of grasses such as wicker mats, grass mats, reed mats, luxurious mats, and bear skin mats.

These mats and their arrangements signified one’s status and identity in various social settings. Additionally, there were other types of mats used for specific occasions, such as woven mats, reed mats, mats made from bamboo strips, and mats used during bathing.

The placement of mats also reflected the hierarchical order. In the “Record of Rites,” it is mentioned that when multiple people sit together on one mat, if the mat is laid out from south to north, the west side is considered higher in rank. If the mat is laid out from east to west, then the south side is considered higher.

In mourning ceremonies, the use of mats also varied according to rank. During the mourning rituals, smaller mats were used inside the house, while larger mats were used in the ancestral hall. The ruler used woven mats, high-ranking officials used grass mats, and commoners used coarser reed mats.

The use of mats was strictly regulated to maintain proper decorum and avoid any transgression of social norms. For example, Confucius’s disciple Zengzi adhered to the proper use of mats, even on his deathbed. He criticized his son and disciples for not changing the mat to a more appropriate one, in accordance with his rank and status, and he passed away while the mat was being replaced.

In summary, the use of mats in ancient China was intricately linked to one’s social status, and their arrangements and types were governed by ceremonial rites and hierarchical customs.

Other Etiquette Regarding Mats

Mats have a head end (upper end) and a tail end (lower end). The head end is considered the top, while the tail end is the bottom of the mat. In ancient times, there were specific rules for ascending and descending the mat. When hosting a banquet or entertaining guests, the host would usually ascend the mat from the tail end and descend from the head end of the mat. The arrangement of mats for banquets was carefully considered, similar to the seating arrangements in modern-day gatherings in Henan province.

The most esteemed guest (宾, bīn) would be placed at the most distinguished position in the hall—between the doors and windows, facing south. Other guests would sit on the west side of the hall, facing east, while the host would be seated in the southeast corner, close to the steps. For guests, the top was in the east, and the bottom was in the west, with ascending to the mat from the west. For hosting guests, the mat was oriented eastward, and the top was in the south, so descending from the north.

Ancient people were forbidden to ascend the mat from the front. The mat had a front and a back, with the front being the mat’s face, and the back being the mat’s back. The terms “南向北向” (nán xiàng běi xiàng) referred to the orientation of the mat, either facing south or facing north. The rule was that one should not ascend the mat from the front, as it was considered improper (“躐席”, liè xí). Another saying was “毋踖席” (wú xī xí), meaning one should not ascend the mat from the front, either.

In contemporary social settings, seating arrangements are also given careful consideration. In ancient times, there were distinctions between 虚坐 (xū zuò) or informal seating and 食坐 (shí zuò) or formal seating. In general, people were expected to sit slightly behind seniors and superiors as a sign of humility. For example, when walking with a respected elder, one should not walk ahead but stay slightly behind. When dining, people were encouraged to sit closer to the front to avoid accidentally dropping food on the seat. When paying respects to a dignitary, one should sit close to them without leaving any empty seats in front to facilitate communication. “徒坐” (xū zuò) referred to non-mealtime seating. It meant that when sitting idle, the distance between both knees and the edge of the mat was about one foot or more.

In certain situations, ancient people did not sit on mats, including when wearing armor, during trials, in the presence of a corpse in the hall, and when mourning a parent. For instance, during battles, soldiers in armor would not sit on mats, as it was inconvenient with all the gear. During trials, the defendants would not sit on the mat. When a corpse was in the hall, filial children would not sit on the mat due to inner grief. Additionally, when the king was exiled, he would not sit on the mat, but instead, use the 幦 (mí, the skin on the side of a chariot) as a mat when meeting other rulers on the road.

In ancient times, mats and bedding were only laid out before going to sleep at night and stored away at daybreak, as sleeping mats were considered undignified and unclean. There were many such rules, like “夜则设之,晓则敛之,不以私亵之用示人也,” which meant that ancient people laid out the bedding at night and stored it away at dawn, so as not to reveal their private life to others. These rules reflected the importance of maintaining decorum and propriety in daily life.

Overall, the etiquettes related to mats in ancient times were deeply rooted in social customs and reflected the principles of hierarchy, respect for elders, and maintaining proper decorum in various situations.

Mats in Buddhism

In Buddhism, mats are commonly used for meditation (zazen) and as offerings to the Buddha.

For example, in the “Great Compassion Mantra of the Thousand-Armed, Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara,” there is a passage that says “not sitting on a high and broad bed,” which means sitting on a low mat to reduce arrogance and greed. In Buddhism, offering mats is a way to show respect and make offerings to the Buddha, demonstrating devout acts of giving.

In summary, in Buddhism, mats are typically used for meditation and offered as gifts to the Buddha, signifying reverence and devotion to the teachings of Buddhism.

Mats in Taoism

In Taoism, mats are commonly used for meditation and conducting ritual ceremonies.

For example, there are records in the Daoist texts of Taoist practitioners meditating on mats as part of their spiritual cultivation. Mats are frequently used as padding for meditation practices. Additionally, in Taoism, mats are used as essential props for conducting ritual ceremonies, such as summoning spirits or praying for rain.

In conclusion, in Taoism, mats serve not only as everyday items but also as indispensable tools for Taoist practitioners during meditation and ritual ceremonies.

The Mat in Confucianism

In Confucianism, mats are commonly used to symbolize etiquette and humility.

For example, in the “Analects,” there is a record of “not sitting on a misaligned mat,” which means not sitting on a mat that is not properly aligned. This practice is done to show respect and humility towards the host. Additionally, in ancient Chinese banquets, mats are essential props that signify different statuses and identities.

In conclusion, in Confucianism, mats serve not only as everyday items but also as important symbols of etiquette and humility.

Chinese Mat VS Chinese Rugs

Mat and Carpet are two different types of floor coverings, and they have significant differences in terms of materials, usage, appearance, and price:

Materials: Mats are typically made from materials like bamboo, grass, or rattan, while carpets are usually woven from cotton, wool, silk, synthetic fibers, etc.

Usage: Mats are primarily used for sitting, lying, padding, and moisture prevention, and they can also be used for drying items. On the other hand, carpets are mainly used for decoration, providing warmth, and preventing slipping.

Appearance: Mats are usually lightweight and compact, while carpets come in various shapes and sizes.

Price: Due to the differences in materials and craftsmanship, mats are generally more affordable than carpets.

In summary, though both mats and carpets serve as floor coverings, they have notable distinctions in terms of materials, usage, appearance, and price.

dream about Chinese mats

  • Dreaming of taking an old mat out of the house is a bad omen.
  • Dreaming of taking an old mat out of the house is a bad omen.
  • Dreaming of bringing a new mat into the house is a good omen.
  • Dreaming of laying a brand new mat on the bed indicates that you are honest, have good social connections, and will receive much help from friends.
  • Dreaming of hanging a mat on the door or wall suggests that there may be challenges or difficulties ahead.
  • Dreaming of a mat indicates that you are honest, have good social connections, and will receive much help from friends. Dreaming of a torn mat suggests problems in your work or career, and you may even lose your job. Dreaming of taking an old mat out of the house is a bad omen, while dreaming of bringing a new mat into the house is a good omen.
  • Dreaming of a torn mat suggests problems in your work or career, and you may even lose your job.
  • Dreaming of a torn mat suggests problems in your work or career, and you may even lose your job.
  • Dreaming of a torn mat suggests problems in your work or career, and you may even lose your job.
  • Dreaming of laying a mat on the bed indicates that you may have relatives visiting.
  • Dreaming of laying a mat on the floor suggests that there may be a big celebration or event at home.
  • Dreaming of laying a mat on the table suggests that you may have an important guest visiting.

Various dream interpretations for dreaming of mats:

  • Dreaming of using a mat to sleep indicates a day of contemplating and pondering over a certain issue. You may encounter situations where you feel stuck or blocked, but once you overcome them, things will become much easier.
  • Dreaming of asking your husband to use a clip to pick up a mat suggests indecision in shopping. You may find yourself comparing prices and brands, which can be mentally exhausting. Shopping with female friends may worsen the situation.
  • Dreaming of sun-drying a mat suggests that any selfish intentions you have may be noticed by others. The people around you are highly sensitive today, and your thoughts might easily be revealed.
  • Dreaming of laying a mat on the ground suggests that friends who have achieved success in their careers would be the best people to talk to today. The time for change is passing, and if you are hoping to change jobs or roles but haven’t received favorable signs recently, you might miss this opportunity.
  • Dreaming of using a mat to shelter from rain overhead indicates that the main concern today is how to make the most of existing resources. Your competitors may show strong momentum today, while your side may appear relatively sluggish.
  • Dreaming of a mat falling off suggests that memories are the theme of the day. You may receive greetings from friends far away or get news about them through other means, making you think about them and feel nostalgic. Going out and being in nature’s greenery can help alleviate your sadness. Try to avoid staying home all day.
  • In conclusion, “mat” is a traditional summer item known for its coolness, comfort, and eco-friendliness. It helps people to sleep better, improves sleep quality, and has a wide range of applications. In the future, “liangxi” is expected to be applied in more fields, bringing greater convenience and comfort to people’s lives.

Reference sources:

“History of Chinese Material Civilization”

“Zhou Li”

“The Development History of Chinese Furniture from Sitting on the Floor to Sitting on Chairs”

“From ‘Sitting on the Floor’ to ‘Sitting on Chairs,’ Do You Really Know How to ‘Sit’? – New Beijing Daily.”

1 thought on “What Is Chinese Mat? -16 Types”

  1. Brian Morehouse

    How were chinese woolen chair mats (scalloped shape not square) attached to the back of the chair? I cant find any images showing this. They come in pairs one for the chair seat the other for the back; however, the one for the back of the chair needs to be held in place or it would slide or fall off. Anyway, this is a question that I can’t find answers to.

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