November 16, 2015
Full Title: Bor Sang Umbrella and Sankampaeng Handicraft Festival
Revised December 2017
When: January 2017
Legend has it that a Buddhist monk travelling back from neighbouring Myanmar, introduced the Saa umbrella to the villagers of Bor Sang over 100 years ago, simply as a practical way of protecting the holder from the sun and rain. Over time the villagers have added they own distinctive colours and style, from the use of local silk and cotton weaved in the nearby village of Sankampaeng (hence the festival bears both villages names) and by hand painting the umbrellas with intricate images of gaily coloured local plants and birds.
While the villagers once made these at times spectacular works of art, as a means of supplementing their meager earnings from rice farming, the demand for their skill has grown to a point where they now export the umbrellas, ranging from the giant parasols to the tiny umbrellas you find adorning your cocktail drink, all over the world. Their intricate and elaborate designs have given the villager’s of Bor Sang the nickname of the ‘Umbrella People’
The Bor Sang Umbrella Festival is held annually all along the main thoroughfare in the village of Bor Sang for three days, the street, its shops and houses are decorated with hundreds of all manner of colourful silk and Saa umbrellas, making for explosion of colour that is a delight to see. In the early evening the street takes on a new life when it is illuminated by hundreds of Traditional Lanna styled lanterns. These are the same colourful lanterns that are also seen through-out Chaing Mai, during the Yi Peng festival
That’s not all, during the three day festival there will be a a variety of shows by day and night. There is the grand procession of parasols, exhibitions, concerts featuring local bands, cultural performances, a food festival celebrating the local cuisine, all manner of stalls and shops selling a variety of local handcrafts including of course umbrellas along with a traditional Thai fair.
Added to this is the annual fiercely fought competition for the grandest umbrella and a beauty contest. If you look hard enough you will see local people at work on making what is commonly said to be the best umbrellas in Thailand if not Asia.
This festival while not on the scale of Loy Kratong or Yi Peng is still a must see if you are in the neighbourhood, the workmanship in the umbrellas (and not forgetting the Lanna Lanterns) is truly stunning and the sight of so many colourful umbrellas and lanterns will stay in your memory for a long, long, time.
For more on the art of making these Umbrellas see You Tube
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