Last Updated on August 15, 2021 by Neil Mackengie
To us, it seems so natural to put up an umbrella to keep the water off when it rains. But actually, the umbrella was not invented as protection against rain. Its first use was as a shade against the sun! Nobody knows who first invented it, but the umbrella was used in very ancient times. Probably the first to use it were the Chinese, way back in the eleventh century B.C.!
We know that the umbrella was used in ancient Egypt and Babylon as a sunshade. And there was a strange thing connected with its use: it became a symbol of honor and authority. In the Far East in ancient times, the umbrella was allowed to be used only by royalty or by those in high office.
In Europe, the Greeks were the first to use the umbrella as a sun- shade. And the umbrella was in common use in ancient Greece. Birt it is believed that the first persons in Europe to use umbrellas as protection against the rain were the ancient Romans.
During the Middle Ages, the use of the umbrella practically dis- appeared. Then it appeared again in Italy in the late sixteenth century. And again it was considered a symbol of power and authority. By 1680, the umbrella appeared in France, and later on in England.
By the eighteenth century, the umbrella was used against rain throughout most of Europe. Umbrellas have not changed much in style during all this time, though they have become much lighter in weight. It wasn’t until the twentieth century that women’s umbrellas began. to be made, in a whole variety of colors.
How Long Have Umbrellas Been Around?
The umbrella has been around for almost 4000 years.
Answer- The telescopic (foldable) umbrella was only born in the 20th century, thanks to Hans Haupt in 1928. However, Jean Marius invented a compact, foldable umbrella in France in 1701, but it was not telescopic.
Answer- Jonas Hanway, a philanthropist in Europe, carried what would eventually become the modern version of the umbrella.
Answer- the word umbrella evolved from the ancient Greek όμβριο (ombrio) ‘from rain’ and later the Latin umbra, meaning ‘shaded’ or ‘shadow’.
Answer- brolly (96% British / 24% American) The British term for an umbrella.