Oil-paper umbrella art in the northern Thai village of Bo Sang dates back around 200 years, when a travelling monk brought the art from neighbouring Myanmar (probably Pathein, still that country’s umbrella craft centre). Handmade paper made from saa (mulberry tree) pulp is cut and stretched to fit a folding bamboo frame, and then painted with a variety of images, including scenery, flowers, animals and people. They come in an amazing variety of sizes, from giant parasols for shading outdoor tables from the sun to tiny cocktail umbrellas.
the umbrella-crafting is carried out by farmers and their families during months when they’re not tending their fields, although a few people work year round so that
tourists visiting the village, six kilometres east of Chiang Mai, can observe the handicraft process. But without doubt the best time of year to visit Bo Sang is during the
colourful three-day Bo Sang Umbrella & Handicraft Fair, running January 15-17, when local hospitality and charm hit a high point.
Most activities for the festival are centred along Bo Sang’s main street. In addition to umbrella-making demonstrations and exhibits, the festival boasts roadside stages featuring traditional Lanna musical performances (some of the best you’ll hear anywhere in northern Thailand) and parades comprised of floats created by local trade guilds, schools and civic organisations. These rustic floats show off village products as well as pretty contestants for the annual Miss Bo Sang beauty pageant.
January 17 – 18