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Chiang Mai Artisans: The Art of Making Traditional Thai Parasols

During my recent trip to Chiang Mai in the northern highlands of Thailand, I visited handicraft workshops to watch artisans making traditional Thai parasols, silk, wood carvings and lacquered pots, boxes and ornaments.

This series of photos shows the parasol workshop and its artisans.

Painted and unpainted parasols, Thai parasol workshop, Traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Painted and unpainted parasols in the parasol workshop

Painted and unpainted parasols, Thai parasol workshop, Traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Close-up of painted and unpainted parasols

Painted and unpainted parasols, Thai parasol workshop, Traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Bundles of unpainted parasols alongside finished, painted ones

Artisans in Thai parasol workshop, Traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Artisans in Thai parasol workshop

Frames of drying sa paper made from mulberry tree bark, Traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Frames of drying sa paper made from mulberry tree bark

Frames of sa paper made from mulberry tree bark drying in the sun, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Frames of sa paper, made from mulberry tree bark, drying in the sun

Cutting bamboo spokes for parasol frames, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Cutting bamboo spokes for parasol frames

Bamboo parasol frames, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Bamboo parasol frames

Close-up of bundles of bamboo parasol frames, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Close-up of bundles of bamboo parasol frames

Bundles of bamboo parasol frames, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Bundles of bamboo parasol frames

Fixing bamboo spokes to make parasol frames, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Fixing bamboo spokes to make parasol frames

Cutting sa paper to size around a parasol frame, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Cutting sa paper to size around a parasol frame

Glueing pieces of sa paper to parasol frame, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Glueing pieces of sa paper to parasol frame

Close-up of glueing sa paper to parasol frame, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Close-up of glueing sa paper to parasol frame

Glueing sa paper to parasol frame, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Glueing sa paper to parasol frame

Glueing layers of sa paper to parasol frame, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Glueing layers of sa paper to parasol frame

Parasols in different stages of production, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Parasols in different stages of production

Glueing sa paper to parasol frame, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Glueing sa paper to parasol frame

Glued sa paper drying in the sun, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Glued sa paper drying in the sun

Fixing bamboo spokes on parasol, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Fixing bamboo spokes on parasol

Finishing touches to parasol, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Finishing touches to parasol

Painted parasols, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Painted parasols

Parasol workshop, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Parasol workshop

Artisans at work in parasol workshop, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Artisans at work

Parasol paraphernalia, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Parasol paraphernalia

Painted parasols, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Painted parasols

Painted parasols and artisans at work, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Painted parasols and artisans at work

Painted parasols, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Painted parasols

Painted parasols, traditional Thai parasols, Chiang Mai, Thailand

Gorgeous painted parasols

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14 responses

  1. Oh my, they are beautiful. Did you get one? It’s amazing how much work these people put into a parasol when back in the western culture 90 per cent is made by machines.
    Lovely pictures!

    July 3, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    • Thank you Suze! They’re incredible and so much hard work has gone into them. I imagine they get paid very little too. Unfortunately I didn’t buy one as I’m currently homeless and have too much to carry as it is. Another time! I’d love to have one.

      July 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm

  2. Gorgeous post Lucy! I would love to visit this part of Thailand!

    July 7, 2013 at 1:28 am

    • Thanks Nicole! There are so many interesting and beautiful places in Thailand. I’m still searching for my place here and still missing Antigua.

      July 7, 2013 at 12:24 pm

  3. Pingback: Chiang Mai Artisans: The Art of Wood Carving | loca4motion

  4. Brilliant pictures as usual Lucy! 🙂
    So much hard work, time & patience goes into making each piece, it’s amazing!
    Just read about this before I came across your post on crafts in Chiang Mai, Thailand, http://www.tafalist.com/members/lavish-lanna

    July 9, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    • Thanks so much Ritu! I absolutely love watching artisans at work and this didn’t disappoint. These people are so talented but get paid ridiculous amounts for their hard work and skill.
      Thanks for sending me the link. Gorgeous bags and I’m a bag person! I’ve bought many tribal bags in my travels and not just in Thailand.
      It had been a while since I’d looked at your beautiful blog so I’ve just checked out a few of your posts and followed your blog. I hope to look at it more regularly now!
      Since leaving Guatemala just over a year ago I’d almost abandoned the blogging realm including my own blog but am now back again!

      July 11, 2013 at 11:24 am

  5. Yeah I know! It’s the same in India as well…the artisans get paid peanuts for what they create! 😦
    I love bags and crafts too 🙂 Wish I’d visit Chiang Mai soon! Love north Thailand food too! 🙂
    Yeah, I was also travelling for a better part of last and this year and not blogging regularly too…have got back to it and hope to be regular now :p
    Did you visit Similan Islands yet? It’s a great place for diving.
    Look forward to your posts 🙂
    Cheers!

    July 11, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    • I’ve still not made it to India although it’s one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit. Your photos are gorgeous!
      I still also haven’t visited the Similan Islands despite having lived over six years in Thailand, three of those in Phuket. It’s always been on my list and I’ll make it there one day!
      Sometimes life gets in the way of blogging as it’s so time-consuming but I do love it. I look forward to your posts too and especially love your photos!

      July 12, 2013 at 10:46 am

  6. Pingback: Chiang Mai Artisans: The Art of Thai Lacquerware | loca4motion

  7. Pingback: Chiang Mai Artisans: The Art of Thai Silk | loca4motion

  8. Pat

    I love the parasols made of silk where can I buy one from I went to
    Thailand but never go as far as Chiang MIA

    May 2, 2016 at 10:28 pm

    • Pat, I think any good artisan market in Bangkok should sell them. They are beautiful!

      May 5, 2016 at 9:17 am

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