The underside of a drying oil paper umbrella

Photos: Ashley Pon/Getty Images

A cultural symbol of the Hakka in Meinong District of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, oil paper umbrellas are considered "full art" because of their many components.

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Woman pasting cotton paper onto the edge of an oil paper umbrella

 

Of the few producers of these handmade beauties, Wu Jian-ying is one of the most pouluar in the Meinong Township. His wife, Wu Jian-ying (pictured), dedicates herself to the craft, pasting cotton paper on the edge of an umbrella frame.

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Hand-painting an oil paper umbrella

 

Lin Rong-jun, of Guang Jin Sheng Umbrella, uses traditional techniques, hand-painting calligraphy onto an oil-paper umbrella.

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A variety of oil paper umbrellas drying outside

 

No industrial dryers needed. Lin Rong-jun simply sets the wide variety of beautiful umbrellas outside to dry.

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Drying oil paper umbrella

 

Oil paper umbrellas have a number of traditional uses. The matron of honor covers the bride with an umbrella to ward off evil spirits in Chinese and Japanese wedding ceremonies, and these fragile gifts also symbolize fertility as wedding dowry gifts.

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Collapsed oil paper umbrellas on display

 

Today, oil paper umbrellas can be found inside homes all over the world as pieces of art and souvenirs from traveling abroad, but their connections to the Hakka society remain strong with every stroke of an ink brush.

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Anna Norris is an associate editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.
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