Bo Sang Handicraft Village
The handcrafting of umbrellas and parasols in Bo Sang Village is known throughout the country and even abroad – so much so that the umbrella has become one of the symbols of Chiang Mai. Here, you’ll find plenty of hand-painted umbrellas, tiny cocktail umbrellas, large parasols for gardens or patios and other handmade products – all made from sa paper in various designs and at reasonable prices.
Bor Sang mid-sized craft village about nine kilometres east of the Old City specialises in the paper umbrella-making craft. Well known for outstanding handcraft quality as well as signature floral designs, Bor Sang Village has made its name throughout the country and abroad – so much so that the name Bor Sang has become synonymous with the paper-umbrella craft itself and the umbrella, a cultural symbol of Chiang Mai. Here, you’ll find plenty of hand-painted umbrellas, tiny cocktail umbrellas, large parasols for gardens or patios and other handmade products – all made from sa paper (produced from the bark of the mulberry tree) and, a more recent development, cotton. The design has also evolved, from the original floral patterns to depictions of Chiang Mai’s rural scenery and even abstract patterns.
Bor Sang Highlights After entering the San Kampaeng district (where Bor Sang is located), you will see vibrantly coloured paper umbrellas in various street-side shops. Some also sell the umbrellas, but that’s not where all the action is. Bor Sang Village is where you want to go. Besides crafts shops, selling the umbrellas and sa paper products, the main highlight is the umbrella factory, where you can watch the craftsmen and women putting together the umbrellas from scratch. In an assembly-line setup, you will be able to tour all the stations, from the making of the smallest parts to fully assembled parts, the drawing station, sundry station (a green lawn laden with vibrantly coloured umbrellas of all sizes) and the finished product ready to be displayed in craft shops. During the annual Bor Sang Umbrella Festival (every third Friday of January), the entire village and San Kampaeng district come to live with festivities, among them parades, exhibitions and Miss Bor Sang pageant contest.
A Short History of the Bor Sang Umbrella Craft The origins of the Bor Sang umbrella craft are rather ambiguous, but all stories seem to point to a pilgrim monk who stopped by to practice mindful meditation in the village. Then the stories diverge, as to whether he or an elderly local introduced the craft to the villagers. In the early days, villagers would make umbrellas during non-harvest seasons. Various umbrella parts would be fashioned out of natural products – bamboo strips for the ribs, soft wood for the cap and handle, natural latex for the varnish and sa paper for the ‘sail’. All the patterns were drawn using natural colours derived from tree barks and plants. Now acrylic paint is more common.
Bor Sang Village Location: Chiang Mai-San Kampaeng Highway (Route 1006), 9 km from Chiang Mai Old City Tel: +66 (0)53 248 604