The origin of oil-paper umbrellas in Yuhang, China’s eastern Zhejiang province dates back to the year 1769, the 34th year during Emperor Qianlong’s reign when a person named Dong Wenyuan started an umbrella-making business, with fishing boat umbrellas and rainproof umbrellas as the main products. Having become favorable choices for gifts thanks to their high quality and durableness, the umbrellas from Dong’s shop enjoyed such a big popularity that some travelers to Yuhang would even knock Dong’s door at midnight to buy umbrellas. In 2007, the Yuhang oil-paper umbrellas were listed in the second batch of intangible cultural heritage of Zhejiang province.
This umbrella has 36 blue ribs and a yellow-background canopy with the seal of “Yuhang Oil-paper Umbrella Craftsmanship Inheritance Base”. The main decoration for the canopy are the painted spring sceneries of Jiangnan, namely, the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River where Yuhang is located, together with an inscription of the household poem by the renowned Tang poet Du Mu (803-852 AD), which reads,
“In this land a thousand li across, orioles warble among radiant tints of red and green;
In waterside villages and by hillside city walls, tavern signs flutter in breeze.
Of the four hundred and eighty temples built in the Southern Dynasties,
Many towers and terraces are now there, shrouded in mist and rain.
Spring of Jiangnan, by Du Mu of the Tang dynasty”