Posted by: whatallisonsees | June 19, 2008

Who knew umbrellas could be so anthropological?

It is the rainy season in China. The first thing I observed in Shenzhen was all the umbrellas. Every single one was colored – brightly! Pink, Orange, Red, Plaid, Cartoons, you imagine it – I saw it. It was so puzzling to me coming from black holes of umbrellas I always see in the states.

Soon, I learned that this country is all about color! Factory buildings have gorgeous blue tiling, bling everyday shoes, airplanes have landscapes printed on overhead bins and even their in-flight meals come in pretty boxes. Why? I still don’t know. I intend to continue asking questions to find out.

But then I went to Hong Kong. As I should have anticipated with its Western influences, the umbrellas were black – no lie! I need to figure this out. Why are more third world countries alive with color and design in the every day and advanced countries are not?!? Mexico, Central America, China, most every country in Africa – all gorgeous, vivid design, in the every day. I am jealous. Any opinions?

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Responses

  1. how about a not-so-pretty, reality reason. In a country where every move you make is controlled by the government, they try to make you as happy with external controls as much as possible. Or to at least give that perception to the world outside. One of these is through color. In a free society we have lots of freedom, sometime we want things simple… like umbrellas that are not colored. However, when our lives are super dull b/c of a government cracking down on everything in your life, you need a little flair through color in your umbrella, as long as it’s a government approved color that is.

  2. I agree with tm. I say that if I had to live in Shenzhen (drab and crappy as it is for the most part), I would need some bright and colorful accessories too.

  3. I got stuck in a rainstorm in Manila in 2004 and stopped at a vendor to buy an umbrella–bright red. At 90 pesos, I thought the cheap-o would last me only the trip. But, I still have that umbrella and it’s the best I’ve ever owned. And, who doesn’t need a little spunk in the drizzle?

    A, I love your blog! And I’m glad to see what you’re up to in Asia, b/c we miss you here. Blessings!


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