Making of the Pathein Umbrella
The umbrella industry of Pathein, the capital of the Ayeyarwaddy Division of Myanmar's delta region, is well known worldwide. This cottage industry was established in Pathein over a hundred years ago.
The first umbrellas were made of paper, but through experience, the makers became innovative and began to produce umbrellas with canopies of cottons, silk and satin with attractive floral designs.
These newly fashioned umbrellas gained popularity with the ladies and sales expanded to the whole country. The umbrella attracts foreigners to buy as souvenirs or for interior decoration on walls and for use as unique lampshades.
Steps for making the umbrella
For each steps in making the Pathein Umbrella, separate group functions each step. The whole product is made by hand.
Installation of row skeletons
The main body of the umbrella is made of wood, known as Ma U Shwe War wood. The branch arms and the supporting arms are made of bamboo known as Taragu Bamboo.
Binding the main body and the branch then together with the cloth. The cloth used for this umbrella is 100% cotton.
Fixing of umbrella cloth
After binding the cloth together with the main body, the umbrella still needs to be fixed for straightening.
Dyeing the cloth
The cloth is then dyed. The cloth is applied with Tayae, juices from natural fruit to maintain the color for a long time. This is done repeatedly. When the cloth is dried, then some oil is applied onto it. Although many colors can be used, the red color is the most favoured one.
Once the umbrella is folded then a small bamboo ring wrapped in coloured wool thread and attached with the same thread to an indentation on the grip, can be slipped on to keep the umbrella tightly closed. This is the part of the embroidery to give a more pleasant look of the umbrella.
Varnishing and polishing
Then varnishing and polishing is done, and the umbrellas are kept in the sunlight for drying. This is also done repeated to give the umbrella a brighter look.
Finally, when all the above steps are done, the paintings of flowers, patterns and other attractive designs are painted on the umbrella.