The Umbrella and Hangzhou

There is a theory that China is the invention place of umbrella. It is the important creation of the working people. It was called Deng originally. From the yellow grandeur umbrellas for emperors’ travelling to the rain shelter for common people, umbrella is highly related with people’s life. Influenced by the Chinese culture, many Asian countries have the tradition of using umbrella long time ago. And it was until 16th century, Chinese umbrella became popular in Europe.

In 1747, there’s an English businessman named Jonas. He came to China and found Chinese people walking in the rain while holding an umbrella. After the rain stopped, they pack it up and take it with them. It was very convenient. So he bought one when he went back to England. Not long after he’s back, there was a rainy day, he took out the umbrella and held it while walking in the street in London. British religious tradition used to believe: rain is the decree from god, and avoid it by using an umbrella is against it. Thus he was cursed and sworn, some even throw eggs to him. But, the benefits of the umbrella was obvious, it became popular eventually. Until the middle of 19th century, umbrellas became one of British life essentials. And using an umbrella became an honorable thing to British.


Oil paper umbrella is one of the Han race traditional handicrafts. It was started from a paper made or cloth made umbrella. Hangzhou is water town in southern China. It rains a lot in all seasons, and has rich bamboo resources. As an important ancient rain gear, oil paper umbrella has more than 230 year’s history in Hangzhou. According to record, the earliest oil paper umbrella in Hangzhou was made in Qing dynasty Qianlong 34th years (1769). There were fishing boat umbrella, civilization umbrella and big red umbrella and many other kinds. It’s also the life essential for Hangzhou people.


Due to the umbrella’s derivative significance on the sociological, in ancient China, umbrella is the symbol of power for emperor and important bureaucracy. It was clearly noted in history and hierarchical. The material, color and size of the umbrella are like the officials costumes, and also the sign of distinguish official levels and status hierarchy.


China Umbrella Museum is located in Hangzhou. The moist and hazy southern China is which bred the unique umbrella culture. The aesthetic, poetic and symbolic meanings are like the wheel of the history, rolling a unique cultural trajectory out. China umbrella museum synthesized presents the umbrella culture, history, stories, technology and art mainly based on Chinese umbrella. It is the very first umbrella themed museum.


Workmanship Demonstration Pavilion is not far from the Umbrella Museum. It is a living supplement to the static museum. By showing those scissors, oil paper umbrella, silk umbrella and fan themed traditional crafts, and creative crafts that used into modern arts, the pavilion provides new vitality for protecting and spreading the Intangible Cultural Heritage history and culture value. The pavilion keeps the original republic China factory style. In the meanwhile, it added some special workshop scenes and graphic presentation throughout the whole tour route. The tourists can not only experience and be part of the history, but also learn strong Chinese historical features traditional crafts.

Under the scorching sun or in the drizzle, a mother is holding an umbrella and waiting for her son coming home. This umbrella shows the love from the mother to her son, reveals the hope of the mother. In Chinese ancient fairy tales, the most told and related to umbrella one should be the legend of the white snake. Their love was presented through the umbrella Xu lent to Lady White. There is a link that tells this story more specifically.


A small umbrella is not only an ordinary rain gear; it also expresses the true meaning of the umbrella culture, the love.

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