- Materials & Industrial Technology
Already grabbed an umbrella for this monsoon?
For Umbrella Fans
Who invented Umbrella
The first record of the existence of 'sun protecting parasol' comes from the Ancient Egypt. And its about 3500 years ago! They began by using large leaves first, which was later improved with configurations of palm leaves and a stick. In those times umbrellas where considered as a sign of royalty. Nobles and religious leaders encouraged a culture of pale skin by taking 'sun-shades' along with them! Several hieroglyphic paintings found in ancient Egypt depict the life of royalty and God with parasols over their heads. In the neighbouring kingdom Assyria, only king had the right to use elaborate parasols.
But it is to be noted that in the desert like environment of Egypt, Africa, Middle East and Assyria they did not feel the need to protect themselves from water(rain)! So, they never thought about an umbrella. Anyway that happened in another place, China. It was in the 11th century BC, umbrellas made of silk and waterproof materials were used by the royalty and nobility. As a sign of power they carried multi- tiered umbrellas. No wonder that the king used a four tiered umbrella. This tradition spread across the neighbouring regions Burma and Siam, thus enhancing the 'tier' system of parasols from eight to 24 layers!!
Umbrella as a female fashion accessory
In the first millennia BC the umbrella came to Greece and Rome where it was considered as a luxurious female accessory. It is said that they even had umbrellas that could be opened and closed, and the royalty never carried the umbrellas themselves. Their slaves or servants carried it for them or sometimes it was mounted over carriage or horses. Men however, viewed it as a female item and they rarely used it. After the fall of Roman Empire in 5th century AD, umbrella was nowhere to be seen. It totally disappeared from Europe. It was only after the arrival of Renaissance that the umbrella returned into popularity. But, even then in the late 16th and 17th century (in France, Italy and England) it was used by the royals. But, at this point it was made of silk and expensive materials that had a short lasting period and less protection from rain.
Umbrella continued to spread reaching all over Europe and America, yet the use was limited to females only. In the mid-eighteenth century this was however changed when the will of Jonas Hanway(founder of English Magdalen Hospital) dared to carry umbrella in public in almost all occasions. Though ridiculed at first, it became acceptable by the male population by the end of 1790s. It became widely popular by the introduction of heavier and trendy umbrellas in the future. Advertisements also played a major role on making it an accessory of men along with that of women.
Many newer inventions has lead to the variety of present umbrellas. Yet, the most notable one is the invention of pocket umbrella by Hans Haupt in 1928 and the introduction of modern folding mechanism by Bradford E Phillips. Umbrellas follow the religious ceremonies of Catholic as well as Orthodox Churches.
Manufacture of umbrella is being refined until modern day. Newer patents have been submitted by the arrival of new inventions. Most of the patent comes from China which is the mother of umbrella manufacturing companies.
More About Umbrella
Word umbrella comes from a Latin word 'umbros', meaning shade or shadow. Recent advancements include the use of umbrellas even as a decoration of many exotic cocktails, chocolates and drinks. Modern day umbrellas are coated with Teflon that makes their canopy water proof. And majority of modern umbrellas are made in China. A city in China called Shangyu is thought to have thousand umbrella manufacturing companies!
Umbrellas can even be considered an offensive and defensive weapon. French President Nicholas Sarkozy was the first who started using Kevlar coated umbrella as a part of security measure. Umbrellas can be modified to hold a hidden blade in the shaft. Such kinds of offensive types have been used by secret agencies presently. Bulgarian President Georgi Markov was assassinated in 1978, by KGB agent who carried deadly poison hidden in his umbrella.
During 19th century, European fashion demanded that umbrellas must be held in the middle of their shaft. English nobility preferred umbrellas made of green or blue silk. Steel ribbed umbrellas were made only in 1852, by Samuel Fox.
Types of Umbrellas
There is a wide variety of umbrellas according to the material used, quality and need. Oil paper umbrellas, automatic umbrellas, bubble umbrellas, parasols, pocket umbrellas, bridal umbrellas all give you a versatile choice.
Make a crafty umbrella yourself!
After the arrival of silk and feather umbrellas, manufacturers began thinking of newer stuffs that can be used for making umbrellas. Thus, came a new kind of material from wood-paper which enabled the manufacture if highly stylized, decorative and lightweight umbrellas that became popular in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Thaiwan, Japan, Korea and Asia. You could recognise the wealth and royalty by noticing the colour of these umbrellas at this point of time. Royal family members used yellow and red coloured umbrellas. At the same time nobles used blue coloured ones. Even now, in China and Japan it is a custom to gift the new bride with umbrella which is a symbol of blessing, protection from evil and wish for many children! These paper umbrellas come from the former capital of China called Hangzhou.
This is the most common type of umbrella. It is the folding type with the shaft made of wood, polyester or metal and, canopy made from microfiber fabrics.
These are umbrellas which can be opened and closed with one hand(means automatically). They usually become an inevitable thing in a backpack.
They are too small to be carried in the pocket of jackets and purse so that you can use t once in emergency (in rain!). They are light weighted and small sized. But, prolonged rain and strong winds can get you wet.
High wind/ Storm umbrellas
These reinforced umbrellas can make you stay in heavy rain and storm of 55 miles per hour! They are specially designed to withstand be weather.
Modern day needs everything modern! Designers think upon making newer kinds of umbrellas from rare materials with very rare and trendy designs that is not seen on streets.
They are spherical in shape. Their canopy is taller than the common umbrellas. These are the popular umbrella types that use transparent materials for making canopy and often binocular viewing ports for better visibility.
Most popular designs include canopy with ears, eyes and mouth of cartoon characters, umbrella handle with cup holders, handles shaped like samurai sword, illuminated umbrellas and many more!
Personal Parasol Umbrellas
This is a remnant of past sun-shading umbrellas where rain is just a dream! It showcases fashion and tan. They are most common in Asia.
These can be found in beach, markets, ice-cream vendors, cafes and restaurants. Large ones are used to serve multiple users. They protect from direct sun rays in open spaces.
This type is usually used by golf players as it has a canopy of 70 inches diameter. It makes it perfect for carrying in a standard golf bag.
As the name suggests, its specially made for brides. Its made such that to suit the bridal gown, is decorated mainly with white or ivory lace, feathers, cotton, ribbons etc..
This is the latest model. In this type of umbrella, handle is offset from the centre of the canopy, which prevents shoulders getting wet by the dripping rain drops from the canopy. It cannot be blown inside out as it uses a semi-rigid plastic frame. It opens by fanning out making a circular shape!