Chiang Mai Shopping | Bor Sang - Handmade Umbrellas from Bor Sang
The famous umbrella making center at Bor Sang outside of Chiang Mai is a must-see for every visitor of the region.
The world-famous village is nine kilometers from town, along a road lined with handicraft-producing factories. In genuine cottage industries, young women manufacture silk and cotton umbrellas and paper parasols which are subsequently hand painted in various animal and floral designs. Generations of Bor Sang families have been engaged in umbrella and parasol making for more than 200 years.
Handmade umbrellas have long played a role in Thai traditional life, used either in ceremonies or, more prosaically, to protect the owner from sun and rain. The umbrellas come in all sizes, from tiny ones suitable for a child to huge ones measuring two or three meters across, and in a great variety of designs.
Bamboo is used for the framework, which is then covered with a locally produced paper called sa. The latter, another characteristic northern handicraft, is made by a complex process from the bark of the paper mulberry and other trees and is wafer-thin but also extremely tough. Layer after layer of the paper is glued to the frame, carefully smoothed by hand during each application until it is taut and even. When the paper is dry, the decorations are painted on by hand in oil colors, with each artist specializing in a particular design: dragons, flowers, human figures, scenic views, etc. A final coat of clear lacquer is then sometimes applies to make the umbrella waterproof.
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