Institute of Archaeology


Documenting the making of the last Nuosu yellow oil-cloth umbrellas in Liangshan, Southwest China

14 December 2023, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

Image of a Chinese man standing in a garden/smallholding with chickens around him, looking at an upside-down yellow umbrella suspended in front of him

David Francis (University of Leicester) and Bamo Anyu (University of Bristol) will give an ICCHA China Night research seminar at the UCL Institute of Archaeology on 14 December.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA)


UCL Institute of Archaeology
31-34 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

This is a hybrid event hosted by the International Centre for Chinese Heritage and Archaeology (ICCHA), which will take place in Room 612, 6th floor of the UCL Institute of Archaeology, and also online via Zoom. Registration for the Zoom event is via the booking link above. This seminar is free and open to all. All welcome! 


The yellow oil-cloth umbrella is an iconic piece of material culture and intangible cultural heritage for the Nuosu People – a Tibeto-Burman group who live in Liangshan (the Cool Mountains) in Southwest China. For the majority of the year the umbrella is used by shepherds to deal with the changing weather patterns of the highlands. During the months of July or August, the yellow umbrella takes on a different meaning as it forms a key role in the performances and beauty contests associated with the annual fire festival (Duzie ꄔꊒ).  The yellow oil-cloth umbrella has been celebrated by Nuosu poet Jidi Majia  – ‘I’ve dreamed of a thousand yellow umbrellas singing on the distant mountain’. However, it has increasingly been replaced by plastic and nylon alternatives and only one practitioner Moshi Rila continues to make oil-cloth umbrellas the traditional way and he is approaching retirement.  This talk looks at how a grassroots collective of Nuosu young people called Echo of Liangshan sought to document the making of the last yellow oil-cloth umbrellas as part of their mission to tell alternative narratives about Nuosu culture and life in Liangshan.

About the Speakers

Dr David Francis is a research assistant in the field of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester and a lecturer in Museum and Heritage Studies in the Department of Classical and Archaeology Studies at the University of Kent. He is the PI of the Dreams of Yellow: Documenting the making and performance of the Nuosu yellow oil-cloth umbrella project funded by the Arcadia Fund’s Endangered Material Knowledge Programme. You can find out more about the project here https://craftchina.wordpress.com/

Bamo Anyu is a PhD researcher at the Business Department at the University of Bristol. Her work focuses on the intersection between gender and migratory labour for Nuosu women in Northwest China.