Bo Sang Umbrella, the craftsmanship heritage of Lanna
An interesting spot in Chiang Mai which locates in Amphoe San Kamphaeng is a lovely village called “Bo Sang Village” with its reputation of the delicate and magnificent “Paper Umbrella”, the signature handicraft of Lanna city. Bo Sang Handicraft Village or literally Bo Sang Umbrella Craft Center is a famous location regarding the umbrella manufacturer of Chiang Mai. The Bo Sang paper umbrella is a souvenir that is very popular among the tourists both domestic and abroad. At the plant, the visitors shall see the manufacturing process of paper umbrella that regularly the villagers use the space under their house as a workspace, then they bring the umbrella to solarize on the ground. Consequently, the place is furnished with the vibrant color and different patterns of the umbrella which is very charming and attractive toward the beholders.
About the village
Bo Sang Handicraft Village situates in San Kamphaeng district about 9 km from the Chiang Mai town on the highway route Chiang Mai – San Kamphaeng. The village consists of numerous handicraft shops and the craftsmen’ residents who are skilled in the making of Thai Paper Umbrella which renowned in Thai “Rom Gradard Sa” (the mulberry paper umbrella).
The manufacturing process of Bo Sang Paper Umbrella still maintains traditionally that using the bamboo frame and mulberry paper with the colorful base and patterns. Mainly, the design on the umbrella is flowers or animals followed to the imagination of the painter. The site allows the visitors to see the making of the umbrella including the manufacturing process of mulberry paper. Moreover, the tourist would know the making of paper lantern and fan at the shops line up along the street, as well.
At Bo Sang Handicraft Center, the place serves as the learning and conservation center of Lanna traditional umbrella making, also develop the quality of product to reach the most exceptional standard. Every year in January, at Bo Sang Handicraft Center will organize the “Bo Sang Umbrella Festival”. The event features the performing art and distributes lots of products made from the mulberry paper, specifically the umbrella. Further, there are the cultural show, procession, folk custom demonstration, and many contests. So, it would be thrilled to the tourists especially the foreigners to experience this exotic and charming tradition of Lanna at the event.
The story of Bo Sang Umbrella
The Making of the mulberry paper umbrella at Bo Sang Village began since long time ago. It assumed that it might be for over the century. According to the story told by the seniorities at the village noted that once upon a time, there was a Buddhist monk named “Phra Intha” who resided at Wat Bo Sang took a pilgrimage to many places until arrived at the Thai – Myanmar borderline. At that place, there was a Burmese philanthropist offered an umbrella to the monk to protect from sunlight and rain. The umbrella was so novel for the monk, then he asked the Burmese that where it came from? And asked to follow him to see the manufacturing base. The monk seriously learned how to make the notable umbrella and brought it back to Bo Sang. After that, the monk transmitted the knowledge of umbrella making to the villagers until it turned to be the learning center of umbrella handicraft of the community.
Consequently, the umbrella manufacturing becomes the main occupation of Bo Sang resident since then. Firstly, the umbrella being used to offering to the temples in any tradition and holy days, then the making of the umbrella expanded led to the villagers make it for trade. The umbrella making at Bo Sang has developed in pattern and process to serve the growing demand of the market until it is one of the top souvenirs of Chiang Mai that anyone who visits this famous province would shop.
Bo Sang umbrella is the famous product of Chiang Mai from generation to generation and also upgraded to be the OTOP product that makes the considerable revenue for the citizen of Bo Sang naturally. Unsurprisingly, the tourist who visits San Kamphaeng district of Chiang Mai would not miss to stop by at Bo Sang Village to see the folk wisdom of this traditional handicraft and buy the unique, beautiful handmade umbrella as a souvenir or gift for their family and friends.
Bo Sang Umbrella Festival
Now, we are talking about the background of the “Bo Sang Umbrella Festival” that benefits to Chiang Mai’s reputation and lures lots of tourists both Thai and international to know this lovely handicraft village called “Bo Sang”. Initially, Bo Sang Village is just only a little community in San Kamphaeng district that the people live their simple lives surrounded with the countryside environment. Mainly, the villagers live the life by agriculture in both orchard and field crop planting, and they made the umbrella craft for sell as the part-time job.
Later, they added some patterns and color which made the umbrella to be more attractive and beautiful and became the vital product of the community. And about 20 years ago, “Insuan Chaisaowongsa”, son of Khun Pao, a merchant who resided at the village examined Bo Sang Village is the home of skillful umbrella craftsmen that can produce and gain a lot of money from the umbrella. Then, he induced the residents and the leaders of the community at that time to organize the “umbrella festival”. The first event was organized with the vast number of participants with the variety of activities and folk performing arts. Unluckily, the event doesn’t get good feedback in every year; nonetheless the village continually set up the umbrella festival in January annually at the Bo Sang Handicraft Center. The festival presents lots of shows and sells a broad array of products made from the mulberry paper, especially the famous Bo Sang Umbrella.
Becoming the famous Bo Sang Handicraft Village
The manufacturing of the umbrella at Bo Sang Village currently is divided into 3 categories are the cotton umbrella, the silk umbrella, and paper umbrella of which all of them use the same manufacturing technique. For those whom interesting in the production, the villager will explain how to make the umbrella starts from the paper production all through the pattern painting. So, this is a fascinating thing to know for the tourist since the process to make the mulberry paper is the traditional way and mostly handmade.
The residents of Bo Sang and other eight villages in the neighboring sub-district in San Kamphaeng and Doi Saked district of Chiang Mai are all the source of umbrella craft. However, the procedure of umbrella making developed from handcraft to industrial process which covers over a hundred families in numerous villages. Thence, most of the villagers have different skill, example includes San Phrachao Ngam Village produces umbrella bud and knob, Ban On makes the umbrella framework, Ban Nong Khong wraps the paper and undercoat the background color, Ban Hoi Ngern in Doi Saked district makes the umbrella handle, and Ban Ton Pao produces the mulberry paper.
Even though each part of the umbrella is separately produced in various locations, but all of those components being gathered at Bo Sang Village, partially the pattern painting and finishing which is an identity that makes the great reputation to Bo Sang Village. With the unique technique to make the umbrella with the unique mixture of goo to attach the fabric or paper to the umbrella frame that is durable and will not be peel off easily. Also, the stage to paint the oil color that needs to mix the color paint with the Tung oil which makes the umbrella to be long-lasting, weatherproof, and capable whether in rainy season or summertime.
The design on the Bo Sang Umbrella
In the past, it is not sophisticated design as the present; instead they were only two primary colors which are red and black. The pattern design has just emerged since last 10 years which it plays the significant role to make the umbrella at Bo Sang is more attractive and lures lots of tourists to visit the village. The design is varied such as scenery, floral, and various animals. The artists illustrate over the painting with thrilled and appealing to the visitors both local and abroad.
In fact, the painters don’t take the art course from any renowned institutes, they just train and practice with the senior artists inside Bo Sang Village. The painters here have been taught since they were young to use the painting brush with a particular technique. Each brush is sipped into two different colors for each side and then paint over the umbrella background that is very novel and delicately. The most common design is roses and also the creatures that inspired by the imagination of the painter such as butterfly, bird, dragon, etc. And after the painting, the umbrella will dry up.
How to store the Bo Sang Umbrella
The secret to keeping Bo Sang Umbrella is avoiding the humidity. In case that the umbrella stores in the box, please open the box lid to prevent any moisture and humidity. Also, you can put the mothball to protect the umbrella from any insects.
As if the umbrella gets wet or spilled from rain, let dry it immediately to extend the life of the umbrella.
What you would not know the benefits of Bo Sang Umbrella
- Decoration for home and garden.
- As gift or souvenir for the special occasion like wedding, New Year, birthday with the mulberry paper umbrella, 5-inch silk umbrella, satin umbrella, or fabric with oil paint coated umbrella that available in the monotone and patterned.
- Weatherproof, so it’s usable in any season.
- Uses as a gimmick or creative prop in any procession that also protect the participant in the parade from sun and rain.
- Venue decoration for any events commercial and celebration.
- Offer to the monk
Traveling to Bo Sang Handicraft Village
From Nawarat Bridge, drives along Charoenmueng Road to San Kamphaeng junction and you will notice the signage of Macro on the left. Then, drive straightforward in the highway number 1006 about 9 km you will find a traffic intersection. Make the left turn and drive more about 500 meters you will arrive at the destination.
By Public Transport:
The public transport (white pick-up truck) and van route Chiang Mai – San Kamphaeng are available at the rear of Ton Lamyai market.