If you get a chance to Thailand, do not forget to visit Bo Sang Village in Chiang Mai, which is well-known for its umbrellas.
If you think that the ‘tourist trade’ is tacky, then you are mistaken. Here at the village, the highest level of quality craftsmanship is to be found.
Umbrella production started when just a few of the colourful umbrellas were made for local monks – enabling them to shelter from both the rain and – even more important – the sun.
The umbrellas are made from pure silk and hand painted at the village. It is possible to see the whole production in Bo Sang from start to finish. You may even be asked to help.
The umbrella village was at first dependent upon farm crops, but as the umbrellas became more fashionable – as a direct result of the high quality – Bo Sang village gradually turned to production of the umbrellas and parasols as it’s main source of income.
Nowadays, it is a thriving business with the crafts being handed down throughout generations.
You can naturally buy umbrellas in many of the stalls and shops. A bit of gentle bargaining might be called for, but the prices are generally reasonable. Everyone wants to clear their stock and get on with making more.
If you are in the business of exporting back to your own country, there are several shops geared up for the export of either umbrellas or the many other locally made craft items.
The artistry now perfected in hand painting umbrellas – is of course applicable to many other items, so it also possible to get a hand painted T shirt – or even your trousers! Prices for some of the painting work, can be as little as 50 THB.
The Umbrella village also has a wide range of other handicrafts made locally – and often painted here. For instance hand painted fans and bamboo wares. In particular, you are sure to find fine examples of the textured paper made from the Mulberry Tree Bark – Sa Paper. Not sure where they can find enough Mulberry trees to fulfil this function.
Bo Sang Village Umbrella Festival
The village naturally holds a festival of Umbrellas. This is normally held in January each year. As well as a wealth of umbrellas shown off at a procession through the village, there is also a spectacular display of lanterns – again by procession, but in the night of course.As with all festival in Thailand, it is a time of general merry-making, and there are sure to be assorted traditional music ensembles and the traditional Thai dancing.
Legend has it, that Phra Khru In Tha, who came to visit the area, saw the possibilities of a new way of life for the people of Bo Sang, because the umbrellas were so beautiful. The inhabitants of the village are said to have moved in and settled from the from precinct U-Nan in China many years ago.
Getting to Bo Sang Umbrella Village.
Bo Sang – Boo Sarng – village is only around 9km away from the centre of Chiang Mai city, and is within easy reach for tourists. Bor Sang Umbrella Village can be reached on route 1006 from the Windmill resort area, or the Doi Saket road is another way to get there for tourists staying in Chiang Mai.
You will not have to worry about transport if you are on tour, and otherwise, there are sorngtheaw running out from Chiang Mai city throughout the day – either from the flower market or from one of the bus stations in the city.
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