An essential thing for people in Myanmar is umbrella which protects us from sun and rain.They can use it not only for dry weather but also for wet weather. The leaf of umbrella can resist wet condition but parasol cannot. Parasols and umbrellas can be seen in many places in Myanmar, these are used for beauty and shade.
We can often see colourful parasols along the beach. These are matching with blue water, white sand, blue sky and lovely coconut trees. It can nicely be decorated around the pool, in the garden and at the ceiling too. The bamboo frame of parasol with beautiful design gives us artistic feeling. There are many kinds of parasol in Myanmar; mainly known as white parasol, golden parasol, Shan parasol and Pathein parasol. There are three main famous places for making parasols in Myanmar; known as Mandalay, Pathein and Pindaya.
Eindawya umbrella from Mandalay was very well known in the colonial days for its strong frame, fully protected from the heat of the sun and the rain. These are different by designs for monk, nun, girl, lamp and garden and were used to export to Thailand and China in the olden days. But, they were gradually replaced by modern imported one with iron frame and nylon leaf.
It was said that the parasol makers from Mandalay moved to Pathein, delta region, after the end of Burmese kingdom. They have been producing variety of parasols in Pathein until now.
In Burmese tradition, white parasols are especially used for Buddha and famous senior monks. It is also a kind of royal regalia for Burmese kings. It is made of wooden handle, frame of iron or bamboo and leaf of white clothes. Eight white umbrellas were used as royal regalia for Burmese king. We can see those in the National Museum together with the other royal regalia.
Golden parasols are used at the novitiation ceremony and also used at the funeral of the donor for monastery, ordination hall and monk. It is made of wooden handle, bamboo frame and leaves of clothes, coated with gold leaves.
Parasols made in Shan State are mostly used for shade on sunny beaches, gardens, restaurants and hotels. It is made of bamboo frame, wooden parts, and leaf of Shan paper. The villagers at the bottom of Pindaya cave are still producing handmade paper from mulberry bark and parasol. Frame of it is made of wood and bamboo but the leaf of parasol is used by their handmade paper. They coated some oil on the paper leaf to be waterproof.
Parasols from Pathein are made in variety of colours, these are decorated with colourful string around the leaf and decorated by designs on the leaf. It is mostly used for traditional dance, taking beauty photo, religious procession, small lamp, and interior decoration, etc…
Most of the monks and the nuns are still using the traditional umbrellas. The art of parasol is still popular for beauty and decoration. It is also one of the popular souvenir for foreign visitors. We mainly export to Italy, USA, Germany, Australia and New Zealand. Local people are also still fond of using it. So we wish the art of parasol to be longlasting in the heart of art lovers.