| ||Things Chinese and Their Stories |
The Story of Umbrellas
China is believed to be the home of umbrellas, which are still universally used in the country. The earliest umbrellas are known to have existed at least two thousand years ago and were made of silk.
At present, umbrellas in China are made of various materials: oilpaper, cotton, silk, plastic film and nyon. As in other countries, they are used either against the rain or as parasols to give shade from the sun. Some are built on straight frames while others are collapsible.
The prettiest Chinese umbrellas are those covered with silk, and the silk parasols of Hangzhou are vertiable works of art which also serve a practical purpose. The silk, as thin as cicadas wing and printed with landscapes, is also fixed on a bamboo frame. A parasol of Hanzhou, usually 53 centimetres or 29 inches long, weighs only 250 grams or 8.8 ounces and is very handy and makes a welcome souvenir for tourists. Local girls carry parasols with them to protect themselves from the sun. It has long become a part of the female attire.