The History of Wicker and Rattan Furniture
Many people in the United States associate wicker furniture with the years since the Victorian Age. In many cases, the shape of wicker furniture certainly seems to evoke a certain Victorian sensibility – an emphasis on grace and even an elaborate style. However, the truth about wicker and rattan history is much deeper. In fact, the history goes so far back that it just may surprise you.
Because wicker is a weaving process, it may be said that the first human beings to build shelter using a palm-weaving process were actually the first wicker furniture makers. Weaving as a process for survival – building shelters, constructing clothing, etc. – is as ancient to human beings as is agriculture itself. So it may come as no surprise in this context, to learn that wicker furniture’s history is not only deeply imbedded throughout the years, but imbedded into the history of civilization itself.
From basket weaving in the Fertile Crescent to Victorian wicker furniture to the modern age of outdoor-friendly furniture, wicker/rattan is a category of construction that has built a strong legacy throughout the world’s history. But it only makes sense to start at the beginning – and by that, we mean the very beginning. Let’s begin with an examination into the roots – forgive the pun – of Rattan itself.
Rattan: A Botanical History
In the plant kingdom, there is a family you might recognize: that of the Arecaceae. The name might look like a tongue twister, so allow us to translate into a word that might be a little more familiar:palm. (In fact, the widespread use of the word palm has led to many people renaming this botanical family the Palmae or Palmaceae.)
The family includes 202 genera and around 2,600 individual species. Move a little further down the family tree and you’ll find the subfamily Calimoideae, which consists of three further sub groupings, or “tribes”: Calameae (Rattan), Eugeissoneae, and Lepidocaryeae. The result is that the word “Rattan” actually does not refer to a specific species of plant, but rather an entire group of plants that fall under the “tribe” of Calameae, or Rattan plants.
In fact, there are some 600 species that fall under the category of Rattan. Many of these species actually differ in their growth behaviors. Some Rattan plants grow as shrubs, while others follow the “climbing habit” that is typically associated with palm plants. Generally, the growth habits of rattan plants help scientists classify and separate each species. Rattan utilized for furniture tends to come from the high-growing plants that grow strong, long stems; however, a variety of rattan plants can be used for different purposes.
Unlike many other agricultural innovations that helped spark the agricultural revolution, the utilization of rattan plants did not come about as the result of cultivation. Instead, rattan was largely picked from wild growth – this is largely true throughout the history of rattan plants.
Overall, the human harvesting and use of palm plants has a rich history. The natural advantages present in many palm plants, from its generally lightweight-but-strong texture to its easy weaving and strong leaves, can come in handy in a number of ways. Coconut, for example, is a highly useful and edible fruit of the coconut palm. It’s not unreasonable to assume that many members of the palm family had a vital role in the history of civilization because of their impact on trade. However, rattan stands out in the palm family for its own unique characteristics and uses – and it’s important to review these before further delving into the history of wicker furniture.
Rattan as Its Own Plant
Throughout history, rattan was harvested from the wild because of two main advantages: it is both strong and malleable, which makes it perfect for the structuring of crafts including furniture. Much of its use in ancient history, however, was relegated to basket weaving – scientists have carbon-dated many baskets to as far back as 8,000 B.C., perhaps even further. This predates even pottery, suggesting that rattan – and many other similar materials – had a key role in shaping human history.
The word “rattan” itself comes from the Malay word rotan. It’s appropriate that the name of the plant comes from this corner of the world, as the plant itself can trace its origins to tropical and subtropical Asia. As a plant that survives well in the tropics – where heavy rain is part of the annual climate – it’s no surprise that rattan continues to thrive there, being mostly produced in Indonesia and Southeast Asia.
Although rattan comes in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on the individual species of the “tribe,” calameae generally shares a number of characteristics, many of which make it ideal for its use in wicker furniture. Primarily, rattan’s generally slender shape, full stem, and barbed leaves separate it from a number of other similar materials such as palm and bamboo. Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of this tribe.
Stem: The long, thin stem of rattan that grows high is very strong, lightweight, and generally easy to shape. This means that rattan itself is not only ideal for weaving, but also works well structurally in the building of a variety of furniture types, though much rattan furniture will also be reinforced with wood if need be. A main difference between rattan and bamboo is that while bamboo stems are hollow, rattan stems are not: they’re rattan all the way through. Although bamboo is strong, rattan is better suited for furniture because bamboo is more likely to crack and split under more weight.
Leaves: The leaves of the rattan may be what differentiate it the most from other plants in the palm family. Most palms are clustered into a sort of “crown” shape. A rattan plan doesn’t look like this. Instead, the leaves are pointed into barbed tips. Because of the slender stems of rattan plants, the slender leaves contribute to an overall physical difference that makes rattan easy to differentiate from other plants in the palm family.
Resin: Like many similar plants, rattan can have a resin, specifically from the fruit of fruit-bearing rattan trees.
The Movement of Early Rattan
Of course, rattan itself couldn’t have influenced civilization in the myriad of ways that it did (which you’ll read about in the next section) if it had stayed primarily in Asia and Indonesia. Some histories trace the trading of early rattan to its original spot of Indonesia, eventually reaching mainland China through trade. From China, it eventually spread to Japan. Of course, tracing the history of rattan trade throughout Southeast Asia is very difficult due to the problems inherent in dating and finding similar artifacts throughout the world.
The spread of ancient rattan may have been aided by the fact that rattan grows year-round; it’s not seasonal like some other plants. (This is also a favorite fact for rattan fans, especially those concerned about the impact of harvesting material like wood on the environment). This encourages year-round trade, of course, and makes trading across oceanic distances favorable, which may help explain how rattan was able to reach the Fertile Crescent including ancient Egypt. However, it’s important to remember that while these near east ancient civilizations almost certainly created wicker weaves, they did not necessarily use rattan. It was far more likely to find rattan wicker in ancient China and Japan, for example, thanks to their proximity to where rattan was most prevalent.
Ancient Wicker: Egypt, Rome, and China
The history of Rattan as a material for producing wicker weaving materials is difficult to trace. Just how prevalent was rattan trade from Southeast Asia and Australasia into the Fertile Crescent, where many of history’s great civilizations would grow to thrive and develop?
What is clear, however, is that wicker furniture and basket weaving was as integral to the formation of early civilization from Egypt to China as was, perhaps, any other method of construction or craftsmanship.
Our first stop is in Egypt, where the oldest examples of wicker have been found. Considering that ancient Egypt’s history dates back several thousand years, it’s not difficult to see the impact that wicker had on civilization.
Wicker in Ancient Egypt
There is no evidence to link ancient Egyptian wicker to rattan materials; most scholars believe that ancient Egyptian wicker simply came from the lush source of reeds and fiber materials available around the Nile delta. The Nile, of course, was the source of just about every material imaginable to the Egyptians – it’s no surprise that wicker finds its roots there, as well.
The Nile wasn’t only a source of reeds, but entire varieties of “swamp grasses.” Generally, these reeds were wet (hence the term “swamp” grasses) – but it wasn’t long before ancient Egyptians discovered the strength of their reeds after they were dried. Given the abundance of sun in northern Africa, this was not a difficult process.
The process of drying out reeds that had already been moist not only allowed ancient Egyptians to discover how durable they were, but how malleable they were – the reeds could be molded into a certain position when wet and, as they dried, they would eventually come to hold that shape. Today’s process of molding rattan is actually not entirely different from this ancient process. As the old saying goes: “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
It’s believed that the distribution of wicker crafts varied according to class and wealth. For example, archaeologists have been able to turn up chairs, baskets, and chests made from wicker weaving in the tombs of ancient Pharaohs. Evidence suggests that the “average” Egyptian family might have only been able to afford a couple of these luxury items.
Just as is the case today, exotic materials created by specific cultures would have been popular throughout ancient history. Wicker materials from Egypt were just as easy to trade as any other material, which helped wicker spread throughout the region of the Fertile Crescent and even across the Mediterranean Sea. Given how light these materials were, (similar to the rattan materials of today) it was not difficult to ship and transport wicker throughout the region. This helps explain the abundance of wicker crafts throughout antiquity.
Wicker in Ancient Rome
Rome conquered Egypt during the civil war between Cleopatra (with her lover Marc Antony) against Octavian (the future “Augustus” and first emperor of Rome). When Octavian won, the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt – which had been ruling since the days of Alexander the Great – came to a close and Egypt came under control of ancient Rome.
The Romans were fond of exotic cultures, particularly that of Egypt. In fact, the Romans were happy to absorb the best characteristics of other cultures into their own – they had even adopted the Greek system of mythology, giving their gods and goddesses new Roman names. Wicker was no exception; Romans not only took to the Egyptian practice but also expanded on it, using wicker weaves to create privacy screens. It may have also been the ancient Romans who came up with the idea of creating swings made of wicker, a practice that continues to this day.
Although the Egyptians tended to be fond of elaborate, exotic weaves, the Romans quickly adapted the wicker to suit their own tastes. Straighter lines and curves now seemed to take over the world of wicker. While Egyptians used the entire color palette to paint on wicker, the Romans favored neutral tones, such as beige or white colors.
Because Rome contributed its massive infrastructure to the spread of wicker, it could be said that wicker truly gained popularity in the world when it was used throughout Rome. Ancient Rome was able to unify the culture of the Mediterranean, so thus it’s influence on the world of wicker can’t be ignored. Specifically, Rome’s control and influence over the entire European continent should be remembered, because Europe would become the foothold for wicker through the dark ages, allowing the practice to be spread throughout the world later on. One place in particular wicker would later spread: China.
Wicker in China
Given China’s proximity to the ideal rattan-growing areas of Southeast Asia and Australasia, it may be tempting to presume that China’s history of wicker is even richer than that of Egypt and Rome. However, despite the abundant resources available for wicker weaving in China, some sources say that wicker did not reach China until the 15th century -- well after the fall of Rome and especially after the heights of ancient Egypt.
The chief reason for the lack of wicker in China before then: they simply weren’t familiar with the process. Trade routes between Europe and China had been established earlier than the 15th century, of course. Marco Polo, the Italian (specifically, Venetian) merchant, traveled to China and documented these travels in the 13th and 14th century – this did a lot to establish a link between the two continents in terms of culture, trade, and exploration.
This may help explain the delay in wicker in China before then. However, once discovered, Chinese contributions to the world of wicker were significant: they enjoyed a smaller, thinner weave that worked well for storage bowls and boxes. The Chinese were especially preoccupied with creating storage boxes that could be lightweight while holding and protecting writings that were deposited therein.
Wicker would go on to have an influence in the continent of Africa as well, during the history preceding our next section; however, Africa’s contributions to the world of wicker is generally not considered as significant of those listed above, probably due to a lack of resources.
Wicker in Europe and the Victorian Age
To those people who associate wicker weaving with a more modernist approach – from the 19th century on – would likely appreciate how popular wicker became during the Victorian Age.
The Victorian Age, of course, refers to the period of British history from 1837 through 1901 – the reign of Queen Victoria. By this time, the American colonies had already become the American states. Wicker as an art form had already arrived in the colonies during the age of exploration, but it wouldn’t be until the Victorian Age (along with its strong cultural influence) until wicker would truly rise to prominence again. Wicker in this age would also go on to be explored, refined, and modified in new and interesting ways that helped ensure its long-term popularity – a popularity that exists to this day.
In other words, wicker in Europe – and especially in the Victorian Age – went through many of its major formations during the history you’re about to read.
The Victorian Age in England was just one age among many throughout its history – it’s easy to forget the Norman, the Elizabethan, the Caroline, and the Georgian Ages, for example. The Victorian Age is of special relevance to Americans because of its close historical proximity, but the truth is that wicker survived to the Victorian Age thanks to its history in pre-Victorian Europe.
Wicker, of course, survived the fall of Rome (which many experts place around 476 A.D.). Marco Polo and other European tradesman and explorers would play integral roles in introducing many popular European customs and cultural influences throughout the world – not just in China, but in the newly-discovered continents west of the Atlantic Ocean.
The seemingly ever-shrinking world came to appreciate the antiques of ancient Roman culture, as well as the contribution of resources now available through worldwide trade. Indeed, as explorers poked and prodded around the Earth, they shortened the trips from India to England, for example, further closing the gap between mainstream Europe and non-European cultures.
With rattan – an ideal base for wicker – flourishing in Southeast Asia and a renewed interest in the Roman style during an age of neo-classicism, wicker was one of the cultural imprints of antiquity that encountered a revival during the Renaissance and post-Renaissance years. When the quality of rattan’s strength as a base for wicker increasingly becoming common European knowledge, demand for the resource would eventually go up – as well as demand for the furniture fashioned from it.
Trade, however, was constantly interrupted in the pre-Victorian years thanks to frequent wars (including the War of Revolution in the United States and the Napoleonic Wars, among others). It wasn’t until the peaceful trade of the Victorian Age, that wicker would truly begin to expand to its current status as a world-renowned furniture style. When Queen Victoria took over the throne of England at the tender age of 18, the groundwork for a general period of peace and prosperity – despite many major hiccups – was laid.
Generally speaking, the Victorian Age coincided with the Industrial Age -- a period of major changes in transportation, manufacturing, and craftsmanship. It’s no wonder that wicker furniture saw major changes in the Victorian Age as well.
Thanks to well-established trade routes and the European Age of Exploration, discovery of rattan’s particular strengths, wicker was essentially in for a renaissance all its own during the Victorian Age. European and American minds alike found that wicker furniture was conveniently lightweight, inexpensive, and easier to clean than the traditional upholstered furniture of the day.
Wicker was also a natural match for meeting the stylistic demands of the day. While elaborate furniture designs may have only been relegated to the upper classes of European in the pre-Victorian age, the age of manufacturing left a middle class that demanded something similar to it’s style -- even if it wasn’t quite the same price as what might be expected in the upper class.
The fact that wicker furniture is easy to paint, contributed to its expanding popularity during the Victorian Age. Painting wicker white and other natural colors (which, maybe not so coincidentally, was also popular in ancient Rome) was a standard practice throughout these times, contributing to the styles of wicker that we’re also generally familiar with today as Americans.
By the time the Victorian Age wrapped up, the world had already crossed into the 20th century. Worldwide trade had become a common practice and wicker had already cemented itself as a common way to produce furniture throughout the western world. Additionally, rattan as a material for wicker had grown to an immense popularity, including in the United States.
Wicker Arriving in the Americas
Before moving on to wicker’s more modern history in the Americas, it may be appropriate to take a step back and ask an important question – how wicker got here in the first place. Indeed, wicker’s history in the Americas does predate the Victorian Age. Wicker came to America with the earliest of settlers – both as a resource for furniture and as a skill, or piece of knowledge. Because so much transportation was handled by boat, it was important to have storage bins and other furnishings that were lightweight – they would take up similar space but not add so heavily to the overall load of a transatlantic journey.
Subsequently, wicker suitcases and wicker traveling trunks became very popular in the Americas. In many cases, this was simply due to the fact that people traveled lightly on their way across the ocean. It may not have been any European’s specific intention to bring over their wicker luggage to the Americas as a method of introducing it to this culture. Instead, wicker largely first arrived in the western hemisphere simply because it was convenient to travel with.
With the Victorian Age now on the horizon and a presence of wicker already established in the Americas, the conditions were ripe for a wicker explosion in the United States in the 19th century.
Early Wicker in America
With the foundations for wicker’s presence in America already laid by the earliest settlers and travelers – who brought wicker with them usually as a matter of convenience because of its lightweight properties – wicker was ready to take a more prominent role in the Americas.
The major change here, of course, was the fact that the colonies of British America won their independence from the crown in the late 18th century. Americans, however, still retained many of their British sensibilities. Not only would British and Americans continue to share a common language, but in many ways they would share a common culture – Victorianism in Great Britain did not only influence its remaining colonies but also influenced the United States. This was going to be very apparent in the way Americans would come to embrace wicker furniture throughout the 19th century.
But Americans weren’t only going to follow in the world of wicker: they were primed to take a role of prominent leadership, primarily thanks to the innovations of one key man: Cyrus Wakefield. In just a few short centuries, the idea of wicker in the Americas would be reshaped from European influence, into a newly-minted American style. Let’s trace the history of wicker as it underwent its transformation in the United States.
Wicker in Colonial America
Prior to the United States winning its independence from the British crown, very few citizens thought of themselves as “Americans.” They were colonists, to be sure, but they were also British colonists, loyal to the crown of Great Britain. It certainly follows that the cultural styling of Colonial America followed this pattern – one that would continue in similar fashion, for many years to come.
To these Americans, wicker furnishings and luggage were part of the culture they brought with them from Great Britain. Not only did colonials bring their own materials when they sailed from England and Europe, but they also brought their skills. It wasn’t long before colonial Americans were producing their own wicker furnishings – though, at this time, the furnishings tended to be relegated to work such as baskets and cradles. Though rattan wicker had been produced before, it certainly hadn’t reached the popularity of today. The result: for a long time, wicker in the Americas was relegated to small storage-based items.
One of the earliest wicker artifacts known to exist in the Americas was a cradle – which happened to be a popular wicker item in the Americas for a long time before wicker was truly explored to its Victorian and post-Victorian heights.
After the Revolutionary War, the state of wicker in America for the most part, didn’t change for several decades. However, a transformation was on the horizon – one that would alter the destiny of wicker furniture in America as well as throughout the world.
The utilization of rattan was not uncommon in the Americas or throughout the world prior to the mid-1800s. The major problem, however, was that not many people seemed to recognize the potential of this strong-but-pliable material as a natural resource to be matched up with the wicker process.
In fact, Europeans at large didn’t seem to realize how to properly utilize rattan. They found a use for it on wooden ships, using it as a way to hold ship cargo in place. Taking into account that the material was considered so disposable, many sailors would simply dump it once their cargo reached harbor. It was this dumped rattan that Cyrus Wakefield, an American, would utilize to change how rattan and wicker furniture were used.
It was Wakefield who would not only realize that rattan was ideal for creating wicker, but realized that rattan wicker furniture was an idea with a lot of potential. Wakefield would take the discarded rattan and shape them himself until his enterprise was large enough to begin manufacturing on a large-scale basis.
Wakefield would establish a factory for producing his products in South Reading, Massachusetts, but eventually the town would change its name to simply “Wakefield” in recognition of his accomplishment as well as his local influence.
But Wakefield’s influence on the world of rattan and wicker can’t be understated. It was he who realized that rattan could be used as more than ship ballast on a large scale. As furniture-makers began to realize the possibilities of using rattan for wicker as well as for support (sometimes deferring to wood for straight-corner items), even in furniture that people could sit on for leisure, the industry of wicker furniture in the Americas would take off – this time, for good.
Wicker Leading into Modern Times
In 1897, Wakefield’s company would merge with Heywood Brothers & Company, forging together two of the most prominent makers of wicker furniture at the time. The two companies – now working as one – went on to create a wicker furniture catalog that was highly influential and would help set the tone for wicker in the modern United States.
By now, wicker and rattan were not limited to being used on transportation. Instead, they were being utilized to their full potential in a full range of items: from chairs and end tables to couches and swings. With all of these options printed in one place (the new company’s catalog), a modern age in wicker furniture was being developed.
The catalog, dubbed “Classic Wicker Furniture”, utilized the best assets of both companies. One company would supply the artistic designs, while the other was able to handle much of the manufacturing as well as the logistics of the orders. With one company providing just about everything that wicker customers needed, wicker furniture was now much more readily available to a larger market. Furniture that had once been relegated to Pharaohs, noblemen, and the upper class was now available to everyone.
That is largely the state of wicker furniture in the modern world. The 20th century would see real modernization for wicker furniture. With the Industrial Revolution infusing the manufacturing base for widespread sale of wicker furniture, companies like Heywood Brothers & Wakefield Company were now able to reach a much wider base. This sets the stage for our final chapter in wicker history: explaining the modern history of wicker furniture and why wicker furniture finds itself where it does in the 21st century.
Modern Wicker and Rattan
All of the history we’ve gone through thus far has led us to modern wicker and rattan – the history of rattan and wicker furniture as it exists today. Given the extraordinary journey that wicker and rattan have taken to get from ancient Egypt and Southeast Asia to your front porch, it’s only appropriate to set a broad historical context for the wicker furniture you find so easy to acquire in the world of 2013. However, if you really want to understand your new wicker and rattan purchases from a historical context, we’ll also have to take a look at modern wicker and rattan history, especially their account throughout the tumultuous and ever-changing, 20th century.
First, let’s set the scene: wicker and rattan during the Victorian Age in Europe and in America saw a revolution as rattan began to become the norm for creating and crafting such furniture. Much of this can be credited to the innovations of Cyrus Wakefield, of course, but the emergence of the industrial age also saw a revolution in terms of how wicker could be produced. There was greater efficiency in manufacturing for a number of items; wicker furniture was no different. And though wicker furniture would still often be hand-assembled, the growing influence of machines meant that wicker furniture could also be more affordably produced.
As we navigate the 20th century, we’ll not only find that machines have had a large impact on the history of wicker, but that a new devotion to arts and crafts would shape the destiny of wicker furniture. Let’s continue to explore the history of wicker and rattan as they emerge onto the modern scene.
Wicker in the Early 20th Century
After the merging of the Wakefield and Heywood Chair Manufacturing Company, wicker was poised to make its national presence known. Because the Heywood Company had developed a way for wicker to be weaved mechanically, wicker was about to undergo an industrial revolution in the early 20th century, much in the same way automobiles would arrive on the scene.
The problem? There was a slight decline in the popularity of wicker during the early 20th century. While wicker patterns had been popular during the Victorian Age, modern sensibilities turned to a more simplistic style. Popular wicker companies of the time (including Wakefield and Heywood) tried to change their designs in order to adapt to these new sensibilities. The results were wicker patterns for chairs and similar furnishings that attempted to emulate a more simplistic, modern style.
However, a competing designer, Marshal Lloyd came up with a new innovation to boost the popularity of wicker. It would be an innovation that would help define the development of wicker furniture throughout modern times: creating wicker furniture from synthetic materials. Using synthetic materials to produce wicker furniture had a distinct advantage over many natural types of wicker because the synthetic materials in many cases could be more durable, especially when exposed to elements of the weather like the sun or rainfall (note: We’ll address how wicker handles different weather later on).
This great innovation led to a renewed interest in wicker. Modern furniture was expected to be versatile and able to handle a number of different environments. Now that synthetic wicker furniture joined that group, many people considered the lightweight wicker furniture to be a viable option for their own homes. And because wicker furniture looks as natural outdoors as it does indoors, it also added an element of versatility for those who wanted to bring some of their furnishings outside for picnics and other similar events. Wicker’s regained popularity sustained throughout the century.
Rattan vs. Synthetic Wicker
The innovation of synthetic wicker also gave customers a choice: whether to choose rattan or synthetic wicker for their furniture. The choice, however, revealed some advantages and disadvantages to each type of wicker furniture.
Rattan furniture had a number of distinct advantages. In addition to being lightweight, strong, and durable – which had made it such a solid option for wicker furniture in the first place – rattan is also porous like wood. This means that rattan is especially ideal for painting, coloring, and even sealing. It is easy to use rattan furniture in a number of ways, giving rattan a reputation as a highly versatile material for furniture. (However, as rattan is porous like wood, you will have to avoid exposure to sunlight and rain.)
The advantages of synthetic wicker (also known as “all-weather wicker”), often made from an artificial material known as “resin,” which is a substance close to plastic, were obvious. It is better suited to the environment than any natural option would, considering it wicks water and moisture away easily and doesn’t rot when left out too long. Additionally, it is highly resistant to sun damage, which is concerning when leaving any type of natural furniture outdoors.
In order to properly choose the furniture that would work best for their personal needs, customers now had to consider if their furniture would see most of its use indoors or outdoors. In the outdoors, synthetic wickers are often preferred. Indoors, rattan furniture is ideal. But the choice isn’t always black-and-white.
To this day, choosing your wicker materials remain the individual’s preferences. This leads us into the truly modern age of rattan and wicker.
Wicker and Rattan in 2013
Visit any serious wicker outlet today, and you can see the results of thousands of years of history and innovation. Not only will you find a variety of rattan furnishings ranging from end tables and beds to chairs and desks, but you will also be able to procure synthetic wicker furniture for more frequent use outdoors.
This is, of course, a far cry from the world of wicker throughout much of its history. Even ancient civilizations that saw the potential of wicker as a lightweight travel material did not see the potential of rattan when used in wicker. Previously, people didn’t see how widely wicker weaves could be applied in order to create a variety of designs – this was largely an innovation of the Victorian Age.
Now, in 2013, wicker and rattan – even synthetic materials – are joined at the hip to create a large variety of options for a large variety of customers. Though wicker and rattan furniture had once been the domain of the upper class, it is now available to just about anyone who is in the market for new furniture.
If you find yourself in the market for some furniture, you’ll likely want to know what is you’re looking at. Now with the history of wicker and rattan behind you, you’re ready to move on to the next step: learning about the materials that go into wicker to give it its unique properties.