Rattan Mat written by Kai Chan

Many years ago I often visited a shop on Queen Street West in Toronto that imported old furniture and gift items from Indonesia. One day they had this rattan mat that I instantly fell in love with. It is quite large, about 6 x 8 feet, made of small rounds of rattan that have been strung together, all the edges beautifully woven with fine rattan skins. It has a shiny patina that makes it most attractive to touch. It also came with a price I could not afford. However one day I got a call from the shop to offer me the mat for a much reduced price. I was happy to get it even though one end was slightly damaged. It is still one of my prized items.

I bought a second-hand grass mat over 20 years ago. We put it on the garden deck every summer. Very often we sit there on our little deck chairs, reading books, having a drink or whatever, this mat somehow seems to give us extra enjoyment of the surroundings.

As a child in Hong Kong, the mats we used were usually made of grass. We put them on our beds, or on the floor when the summer heat was getting unbearable. In those days when air-conditioning was not common, an imported woven rotten mat from Malaysia was much appreciated. After used for a while, these mats would have a beautiful patina with a very cool and smooth surface that made the summer hot weather much more bearable.

Is it be possible that because I grew up sleeping on mats the reason I am still so fond of them today, I wonder!

(Le Système des objets is a new column about OBJECTS, with contributions by various authors. The column name is borrowed from the title of a book by Jean Baudrillard.


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