Chinese paper umbrellas – a cultural vehicle for worshipping the gods

paper umbrella

Chinese paper umbrellas a cultural vehicle for worshipping the gods

Awe of the God of Heaven

Umbrellas in a sense reflect the ancient people’s psychology of the sky. Shen Kuo in the “Mengxi

pen-talk” clearly proposed that the umbrella cover has twenty-eight umbrella bones, corresponding to the twenty-eight stars in the sky. The round shape of the umbrella is in line withthe ancient concept of heaven and earth. We can see from the bronze mirror ornaments unearthed in the Han Dynasty that the Chinese cover is in the upper center, representing the sky, and the bottom of the cover represents the earth.

As a form of umbrella, Huagai was often used by the ancients to express their reverence for the heavens. In the Eastern Han Dynasty, Emperor Lingdi erected a 12-layered multicolored umbrella on the main altar In the Eastern Han Dynasty, Emperor Ling erected a twelve-layered five-colored Chinese cover of ten feet high on the big altar, and a nine-layered Chinese cover of nine feet high on the small altar, while he himself stood under the big Chinese cover. The umbrella was worshiped by the world as a symbol of heaven.

We see that in the old days the top of the oil paper umbrella was often wrapped in a square scarf, the purpose of which is often unknown. Perhaps most people have to speculate on its efficacy, but what is unexpected is that this square scarf is actually a symbol of some kind of moral meaning. This reverence was transferred to the umbrella, forming the decoration on the top of the oil paper umbrella. In addition, the square scarf is four square, and the four sides represent the four dimensions, the four dimensions are etiquette, righteousness, integrity and shame, as the saying goes, “etiquette does not exceed the rules, righteousness does not advance itself, integrity does not hide evil, shame does not take away from the wrong”, meaning that people should be modest and courteous, have moderation, and should not act beyond the moral norms. Do things in accordance with public courtesy, to let others recognize your achievements, rather than self-exaltation. When faced with the temptation of profit, you should maintain your integrity and not cover up your wrongdoings. Do not be complicit with people of low morals and do not do anything that does not violate the moral code. The ancient people’s work of educating people can be said to have penetrated into the ordinary, and even those as small as umbrellas can take on the function of education, moistening things in the smallest drops of life”

Since the Zhou Dynasty in China, it has been a folk custom to worship the Moon God on the Mid-Autumn Festival. People cut watermelons into the shape of lotus flowers to symbolize the throne of the Moon God and offer the image of the Moon God with red oil paper umbrellas and moon cakes as offerings. Here, the red oil paper umbrella was an important magic weapon for the moon god to protect the people and remove evil from the earth. In the Northern Song Dynasty, every mid-autumn festival, the people would put up a new oil paper umbrella and wear new clothes to pray for the blessing of the Moon God.

bamboo parasol


The symbolism of the umbrella in religion

In Buddhism, there are four heavenly kings who live on Mount Sumeru, among which the northern king of the heavens, named Vishwamun, which means “many heard”, holds the magic weapon He holds a magic weapon, the umbrella, to suppress all the evil demons and protect the people’s safety. In Tibetan Buddhism, there is the Great White Umbrella Buddha Mother, the mother of all Buddhas, whose image is holding a white umbrella, and under her umbrella are the beings who are sheltered by her. In Buddhism, the Buddha Mother has a very broad love for people, animals and all beings. Therefore, the scope of her umbrella is much larger. The same umbrella plays seemingly the same, yet different, role between the mundane and the religious.

Tools for Chongfu to avoid evil spirits

Since ancient times, the main pursuit of life for the Chinese people is good luck and good fortune, to avoid harm. Such a simple pursuit of life is often This simple pursuit of life is often projected on people’s daily necessities, in order to achieve good luck everywhere. The oil paper umbrella, for example, is regarded as an auspicious object by the Hakka people in Taiwan, as the saying goes: “If you have a son on oil paper, everything will be successful. In Southern Fujian culture, people often avoid giving umbrellas because of the resonance between umbrella and “scatter”. When a boy in a Hakka family reaches the age of 16, his parents will give him a paper umbrella, because “paper” and “son” sound harmonically, symbolizing the man’s adulthood. The round shape of the umbrella has the symbolic meaning of completeness and the auspicious meaning of fate, so the paper umbrella becomes an auspicious gift from the Hakka family.

The Hakka oil paper umbrella not only has the symbolic meaning of many sons and many blessings, but also is regarded by the Hakka as a thing to ward off evil spirits. One is that the umbrella has the function of warding off evil spirits; the other is that the umbrella has the meaning of avoiding bad luck because of its harmonious sound with “shining”. In Hakka religious ceremonies, an oil-paper umbrella is often used to ward off evil spirits in a portable shrine. Therefore, the oil paper umbrella represents the Hakka people’s expectation of a happy and prosperous life. In the 1920s, the mature umbrella-making skills were introduced from Chaozhou, Guangdong to Meno, Taiwan, where the umbrella-making industry emerged and the oil-paper umbrella became almost a synonym for Meno folk craft. There are many places in Taiwan that produce oil paper umbrellas, but none of them are as famous as Meno.

The umbrella bone of the oil paper umbrella is often made of bamboo, which represents the symbolic meaning of rising high, so in ancient times, students who took the examination or officials who went to their posts They like to pack a red umbrella in the bag, in order to high school or a safe journey. According to legend, Zhu Xi in the Song Dynasty, when he was a little-known person, before going to Beijing to catch the exam, specially asked the umbrella maker to copy the Four Books and Five Classics on the umbrella, so that they can study at any time [5]. Later, Zhu Xi because of hard work and the top of the high school, people actually attributed the credit to the umbrella, that the umbrella blessed Zhu Xi, from then on, in the folklore has the custom of taking the umbrella to catch the exam, for blessing.

In our traditional folk culture, the tung oil on the surface of the umbrella has the effect of warding off evil spirits, and Taoism also believes that when the ghosts smell tung oil, they will flee far away. In addition, Taoism believes that wood and paper can connect yin and yang, and paper is made of wood, which is alive and can be attached to spirits, so most of the offerings are made of wood or paper. The oil paper umbrella is made of wood and paper, so it naturally becomes a Taoist magic weapon, which is used to drive away evil spirits and calm down the house, inviting immortals to pray for good fortune. The surface of the oil paper umbrella is Yang, and placing an oil paper umbrella in the house or hanging it on the roof with the tip down indicates that the gods will protect the person under the umbrella and avoid bad luck.

When their daughters get married, the Hakka family will definitely bring oil paper umbrellas, because the traditional Chinese character for umbrella is “傘”, which consists of five “人” and one “十”. The character “umbrella” is composed of five “people” and one “ten”, and five people means many sons and many blessings, which also means five sons. In addition, in the I Ching, it is said that “the number is born from one and becomes ten”, therefore, ten means achievement and completion, that is, the meaning of ten perfections. The oil paper umbrella is a symbol of good luck for the Hakka people, as it is also harmonized with “having children”. When a woman steps out of the palanquin, she must first hold up an oil-paper umbrella to get away from evil spirits.

In ancient times, on the day of the wedding, the bride was accompanied by a female elder of wealthy virtue who held a black umbrella for her. Since the bride on the wedding day s status is the greatest, but it is not as big as the sky, so the umbrella is used to cover the bride to show the reverence for the sky.

In the old days, red umbrellas were used for weddings, and the red umbrellas were actually a substitute for red covers. According to legend, when heaven and earth were first opened, there were only two siblings, Nuwa In order for mankind to flourish, they had to be married. So they went to pray to the God of Heaven, asking for His will that if they agreed to their union, the clouds would come together, and if not, the other way around. When they saw the clouds gathering in the sky, Nuwa decided to consummate her marriage with her brother. However, she was deeply ashamed because of her brother and sister, so she made a fan of grass to cover her face. Later, people had the custom of covering their faces with fans when they got married, and this custom gradually evolved into the red cover. Later, the red umbrella replaced the red cover and became the bride’s hand.

In some areas such as Guizhou and Hunan, matchmakers must bring an umbrella with them when they make a match, because the umbrella is round when it is opened and conical when it is closed, which is exactly the same as the meaning of success, so the matchmakers carry the umbrella with them, which also indicates the smoothness and success of their trip. In the marriage match, two matchmakers are usually deployed, each holding an umbrella, indicating a great reunion, so their umbrellas are also called “reunion umbrellas”. “Reunion umbrella” is also the mark of whether the marriage proposal is successful, the marriage is a success or failure, are in an umbrella. When the matchmaker first arrives at the woman’s house, he will open the umbrella and place it upside down at the door, and if the woman agrees to this, the umbrella will be turned upside down, and then the second marriage proposal will take place. The medium of the second marriage proposal is still an umbrella, which is still placed upside down outside the door, but the difference is that if the woman’s uncle agrees, the umbrella is gathered from outside and moved indoors near the fire pit. For many ethnic minorities, the fire pit in the home is of paramount importance and has a status similar to that of the shrine in the home of the Han Chinese. For the third time, the umbrella is still used throughout the marriage proposal, and if the proposal goes well, the umbrella is not only brought into the room, but is further placed in the woman’s boudoir. The umbrella here implies the cult of fertility, as the umbrella is seen as a symbol of masculinity, and in the process of marriage proposal The umbrella is seen as a symbol of masculinity, and it is placed in the woman’s house during the process of marriage proposal, reflecting the sympathetic thinking of the first people, who had no distinction between things and themselves.

The demands of folk life are always simple and rustic, and in today’s local of folklore, umbrellas are still used to a greater or lesser extent at weddings. Family The family, as the basic unit of society, undoubtedly holds many of people’s The family, as the basic unit of society, undoubtedly carries many good wishes and wonderful visions. The use of umbrellas at weddings is a reflection of people’s reflecting the simple wishes of people’s life, and reflecting the good The good and simple pursuit of life of the Chinese people

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