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Thursday, May 21, 2009

May 9, 2009-Umbrella Factory

wingssail image-fredrick roswold
Paper Umbrellas

A type of umbrella of wood and paper and waterproofed with the juice of persimmon has been made in Asia for centuries.

I first saw them in as a sailor Singapore in 1971 but even back then buying one was difficult. All I could find in the shops in 1971 were steel and black nylon umbrellas from Japan. Yet the paper ones had to be sold somewhere; the local people were using them every day on the streets of Singapore. The taxi driver I enlisted for my umbrella shopping quest was patient and I was persistent back in 1971 and after several stops we finally found a paper one for sale in a small shop which I bought from the elderly Chinese shopkeeper for a dollar and some small change, all I had in my pocket at the time. That umbrella became a treasured memento of Asia for me and found its way back to the USA in my Navy sea bag. It knocked around the house for many years and eventually lay gathering dust in the basement. I left it when I moved to the boat but I always missed that paper umbrella

This year I saw in a tourist brochure that there is a place in Northern Thailand where paper umbrellas are still made. Now I had a chance to revisit the Asia I knew from 1971.

Judy and I drove to Bor Sang and found several small factories where men and women made umbrellas of wood and paper, hand painted and waterproofed with persimmon juice, the same as Singapore in 1971.

It made for some interesting photos.

And yes, I bought another paper umbrella, three in fact. They are in a shipping box in the apartment Bangkok at the moment and we'll put them on the boat this time where they will replace the rusting and broken steel and nylon ones we carry under the port pilot berth.

Who says you can't go back.

Fred & Judy, SV Wings, Phuket

Click here for some more photos from Bor Sang

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