Bamboo Torture – Worst Punishments

A historical overlook of Bamboo torture, used in the past.
Bamboo plant

Brutal Torture Methods in History

For all warped punishment fans out there, we have something very special for you today!. It might just be the sickest, most depraved punishment we’ve ever talked about, but we’ll let you decide after you’ve finished watching the show. (Bamboo Torture) And if you’re a nature enthusiast who’s currently concerned about the state of the environment, you’ll be pleased to know that this particular punishment is 100 percent sustainable. Paradoxically, it’s the most ethical unethical torture that’s ever existed. 

About the Bamboo Torture

First, you need to understand a little about the star of today’s show, a plant called bamboo. Many of you won’t be too familiar with this plant, but in parts of Asia, the thing is absolutely indispensable – and not just to panda bears. You need to know that the stuff is very, very strong. What’s incredible about bamboo is that it grows very fast, and we mean really fast. You can almost watch it grow in front of your eyes. Over a period of 24 hours, some species of bamboo can grow up to 36 inches, just over 91 cm. 

Ok, now some of you nicer viewers out there are now thinking, ok, what’s this got to do with torture. Bamboo is hard and would make a good stick to hit people with, but that’s hardly bad when you consider the Infographics Show has talked about flaying people and boiling them alive. 


How did Bamboo Torture Punishment work?

Bamboo Torture
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Let’s imagine you’ve captured a person and you need to get some information out of him. Let’s also imagine you are in the jungle and don’t have many torture tools at hand. What’s the worst thing you could do to him?

The correct answer is to strip him and tie him down so that his anus sits right above the sharp end of a bamboo shoot. You know that this thing will grow over an inch an hour. That’s gonna hurt after a few hours, with maybe the first two hours feeling slightly uncomfortable for the guy. You’re pretty sure that after a few hours, your prisoner will be willing to tell you the exact location of all his brothers in arms. If he keeps quiet, and we doubt anyone in this world would, that bamboo will penetrate him and eventually cause a massive amount of blood loss as it makes its way through his body.

Other variations of the Bamboo Torture

We mentioned this rather horrific route first, but bamboo torture wasn’t always focused on the rear end. At times, a person could be laid over the bamboo shoot, so it penetrated the stomach, or the leg, or even the hand or the face. Ouch, the face would really hurt. If that was the case, after a few hours there would be quite a mess.


Maybe some of you are now doubting this ever happened. You’re thinking there’s no way this would work. Well, the TV show Mythbusters was also quite skeptical so it put bamboo to the test. Instead of a human, it used a material that could mimic human flesh. And guess what, the bamboo went right through that material. Mythbuster’s conclusion was, damn, that is one scary plant.

Bamboo torture
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The depraved mind behind Bamboo Torture

Who the hell would do such a thing to another human being? The answer is the Siamese, a culture with a colorful history of torture. In the early 19th century Siamese soldiers used bamboo torture in what’s called, the “Siamese invasion of Kedah.” Siam by the way is what we call present-day Thailand.

The Siamese, along with another torture-loving country, Britain, invaded what’s now called Malaysia. It was a British guy who wrote a book called, “My journal in Malayan waters” that talked about this terrible form of torture. In the middle of the book, he calls bamboo “palm spears” and a “formidable Lance”, going on to say that he felt sorry for the Malaysian folks that were impaled on it. “Such are the cruelties perpetrated by these wretched native monarchies,” he wrote.


For a few pages, it’s all about unimaginable torture, including cooking people to death. As for the description of bamboo torture, we think you ought to hear it described by the writer. He said they captured a man and then tied him down on a fast-growing sprout in a sitting posture so “its lance-like point should enter his body, and bring on mortification and death by piercing the intestines — in short, a slow mode of impaling.”

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that a plant that grows so fast could be used as a tool of torture, so you won’t be surprised to hear it happened in other parts of Asia.

We found a book called, “Journey Across the Peninsula of India, from Madras to Bombay,” which describes people in India making use of the hyperactive plant. Again, it’s a British writer and again he talks about this remarkable plant that grows so fast and is so strong. He doesn’t really go into gory detail about the punishment but says it was quite a common method of torture. He said a man is placed on a bamboo shoot, “which speedily makes its way through the body.”


All you viewers in the U.S. might be thinking, “Thank God that never happened to any of our soldiers.” Hmm, we have some bad news for you. It seems it did. It also happened to other Allied soldiers that were prisoners of the Japanese during the second world war.

We found a book that details the horrendous exploits of Japanese soldiers.

The writer explains that the torture was “designed to be visible and terrorizing” so to dissuade anyone from thinking about fighting the Japanese. Many of the recipients of the torture were actually from the Philippines.


It’s frightening reading, containing descriptions of people’s feet being burned and their fingernails being removed with pliers. The worst description is that of bamboo torture. The writer explains that “great pain was inflicted on prisoners by tying them with their anus on the top of young bamboo shoots which would pierce them as the shoots grew every day.” The worst thing was, if the prisoner was a local Filipino, the Japanese would make his family watch as the bamboo slowly made its way through his body.

Bamboo punishment
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Excruciating pain

Some U.S. officers that managed to get out of the camps later explained how the stealthy plant caused unimaginable pain. The BBC wrote this, “Tales were told by surviving prisoners and soldiers who found the mutilated bodies of their lost comrades. How the Japanese placed Bamboo shoots under the tied down Allied Prisoner.”

We are giving you all these examples because some people think bamboo torture is a myth, that it’s so gruesome that it was cooked up by the campfire to scare people. Well, as you’ve heard today, there exist quite a few reports stating bamboo torture happened.