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Bamboo wives are typically hand-woven from bamboo cane.
In the summer heat, the open bamboo structure is cooler to the touch than fabric pillows or sheets. The Dutch wife is embraced by the user, as one would a sleeping companion—this position exposes the maximum amount of the body to cooling breezes. This and other devices, such as pillows of a similar shape, may also alleviate lower back pain when placed between the legs during sleep periods.
Bamboo wife and their variants in other countries have their origin and use in East Asia and Southeast Asia, tropical regions with hot, humid seasons.
They are now less popular to the point of extinction, possibly due to the prevalence of air conditioning. As a replacement for Dutch wives made from bamboo, they can also be made of cotton or other synthetic fiber. Dutch wives made of cotton or other synthetic fiber are still widely used in Indonesia.
Because chikufujin are hand-woven from cheap materials, they are an item used to connote the poverty of the manufacturer. In the Japanese film Lady Snowblood, a supporting character (Kobue) pretends to make her living by weaving chikufujin to conceal her profession as a prostitute from her father.
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