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Reviving the lost art of making silk parasols

By Wu Huixin (Shanghai Daily)

10:08, January 23, 2013

Zhang Jinhua, an expert making traditional silk parasol, makes a parasol in the Hangzhou Crafts Living Culture Exhibition Hall. (Shanghai Daily)

Ladies once commonly carried silk parasols to protect their complexions from the sun, and some were quite elaborate and fashionable. Hangzhou hand-made silk parasols with bamboo ribs were famous for their artistry.

Over time, women came to fear the sun less and dared venture out without a parasol. They found that broad-brimmed hats and synthetic, waterproof and collapsible umbrellas were easier to handle and more durable. Mass-produced umbrellas were also cheaper.

Silk parasols became vintage accessories, fashion relics.

Today Hangzhou is resurrecting its classic crafts, such as the West Lake bamboo-ribbed silk parasol, which has become a signature Hangzhou souvenir.

"The craft of making silk parasols will be lost if it is not taught and passed down to the next generation," says 56-year-old Zhang Jinhua, an expert who makes traditional silk parasols and teaches others in the Hangzhou Crafts Living Culture Exhibition Hall.

To preserve parasol-making, the city government gave a studio to Zhang and her apprentices. They work six days a week making old-style parasols, some with modern designs and some water-proofed.

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Leave your comment1 comments

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Linda at 2013-01-27216.19.183.*
Beautiful. Hopefully the craft isn"t lost. As skin cancer becomes more of a concern in Western countries, hopefully one day they will become a very desirable fashion accessory.

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