The Umbrella Legend


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Can you imagine yourself getting out during a rainy day without holding the beloved shelter of an umbrella in your hand? Even if your raincoat matches your outfit and keeps your clothes dry while walking under the rain, the use of an umbrella has transcended generations, royal customs and cultures, becoming a necessity, a cheap but highly desirable device that can indeed protect the beholder as well as improve his or her overall appearance.

According to ancient scripts and representations, the parasol, or commonly referred today as the umbrella, was first seen in China, roughly 2,400 years ago. A human invention that according to historians its present form is based on the simpler practice of tiding together large leaves to form a protection shelter against the rain or the sun. Waving the original designs in the air in front of a high ranking individual, was a practice that was transferred through trade and the “Silk Road” to other ancient civilizations, like the Persians, the Egyptians, or the Greeks, from whom the Romans first saw it and continued to carry it as a symbol of class or even royalty. Religious leaders or people with higher social status were the usual beneficiaries who enjoyed the umbrella’s protection characteristics.

Specifically, the umbrella traveled from China to Japan through Korea and was introduced to the West where it was transformed to its present shape and use. Whether it derived from the tent used to protect people against the extreme weather conditions or the palm-leaves and feathers fixed on long handles and carried by peasants above the higher-class leaders of ancient years, the umbrella’s characteristics have remained popular to the present day. In fact, as it has gradually transformed to the lightweight, colorful and flexible design everyone has the ability today to carry or place to his backyard, the umbrella has become a device that is commonly used for a variety of purposes.

From the sculptures of Nineveh and the images of ancient Greek Athenian women, parasols, or umbrellas, have been portrayed as a symbol of class and power. Mainly used in southern Europe, probably due to its hotter climate, umbrellas became a gadget and a trend that traveled all over the world and was introduced by different leaders and later endorsed by a variety of people. Since the early days, when umbrellas entered the Basilican Roman churches and were used over the cardinal’s head to symbolize privilege and honor, the cultural shifts and changes in human practices transformed umbrellas to a device of public use. Thus, today, people of all ages and backgrounds all over the world, are processors of umbrellas which protects them against sun or rain. Perhaps, after knowing now some of the unique facts that surround the umbrella history, advancing it to a gadget legend, you will think twice of this simple useful device the next time you will grab it, just in case it rains, and storm out the door.

John Gibb is the owner of umbrella sources

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