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Ancient Chinese umbrella biz sees no sunshine


02-24-2017 17:43 BJT

By CCTV.com Panview editor team
Editor’s foreword: "Looking China" International Youth Film Project is co-organized by the Academy for International Communication of Chinese Culture (AICCC), Beijing Normal University and Huilin Foundation, which aims to showcase the contrasting simplicity and glamour, the antiquity and fashion of China through unique perspectives of young foreign film makers.

The film, Umbrellas, directed by Jun Tsuboike, takes a closer look at companies making ancient Chinese umbrellas in Zhejiang Province, but are struggling to survive.

Hand-crafted umbrellas are a beauty to behold, but few Chinese people buy them for regular use on rainy days. They are mostly decorations for tourists. The camera crew interviews an umbrella crafstman and factory owner.

The craftsman laments the industry is too traditional. Despite making umbrellas for around twenty years, he is not eligible to become a teacher, since ancient customs say you must be at least 40-years-old to teach others the craft.

He loves painting designs on umbrella but believes the sector’s reliance on old-fashion ways has prevented umbrella makers from enjoying brighter days and bigger profits.

The umbrella factory owner also confessed his business is not very successful. He appears to hire only retired people or middle-aged women to keep labor costs lower.

Yet, he will continue to operate the factory. He fears shutting it down would mean ancient Chinese umbrellas will vanish.

Nonetheless, the film ends with footage of a rainy night in a Chinese city. All people are using regular umbrellas, not the ancient Chinese versions.


(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)

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