Chinese umbrellas are used as decorative items more than as functional parasols to keep away sun or as shelter from the rain. They are sought-after worldwide as collector’s items for people that appreciate the beautiful craftsmanship of traditional Chinese culture. Modern-day collectors can order them online if they are not readily available in a local specialty shop.
These umbrellas resemble modern “Western” umbrellas in their shape and design for the most part, but generally do not collapse and are never used in the rain. Their use was restricted to keeping the bright sun away from Chinese women, who were prized for their porcelain-white complexions.
The umbrella frames are fashioned from native bamboo and have many stems that branch out from the handle. The paper that is stretched across these stems can be dyed different colors or have tradition Chinese writing and images printed on the beforehand, which lends to their beauty.
Some umbrellas have scalloped edges, which is a nod to the level of craftsmanship that is involved in producing just one. These unorthodox umbrellas are much more difficult to make than a symmetrical round umbrella. Most of them have finished edges consisting of tautly-wrapped bamboo which adds to their rigidity as well as their appearance.