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Parasol is the daughter of Umbrella.

Indranil Sarkar

Umbrella-hat

Assamese Japi

Intro.: Tenth February is observed as the International Umbrella Day all over the world. Umbrella was
first invented in China to protect oneself from rain and sunlight in c.3500.Because of high cost it was
used by the moneyed people only and virtually it became the symbol of Royalty. Today Umbrella is
used all over the globe both as a fashion ingredient and as necessary equipment against rain or
sunshine. Mainly three different terms are used for an Umbrella. These are Umbrella; Parasol and
Bumbershoot.
Defn. An umbrella is an instrument that is used to protect oneself from the heat of Sunlight or rain
water. Although Umbrella and Parasol are used synonymously, there exists a fundamental conceptual
difference between the two. An umbrella is meant to be used to protect oneself from rain while a
parasol is to sunlight. Bumbershoot is an American slang; a portmanteau word from umbrella and
parachute. Parasols are also called sunshades while an umbrella is synonymous to a brolly, a parapluie
or a rain shade. Some people even call it a gamp after Dickenss use of the term in Martin Chuzzlewi.
Origin: Most of the deities, Indian and Greco-Roman, used to wear Umbrellas. And almost all the kings
of Oriental countries are seen an umbrella held up at their head by an attendant. But in social life,
Umbrella was first invented in China to protect oneself from rain and sunlight in c.350. It was exclusively
for feminine use till 17th century. It became a practice to use an umbrella irrespective of ones gender
only in the late 18th and 19th century. In initio it was a sign of Royalty. It was for the Kings and princes
only. The common people did not have the privilege of wearing or using an Umbrella. Even today the
tradition has not been totally obsolete in Indian villages. People belonging to lower strata of the society

have to close his umbrella customarily as soon as he encounters a man of superior strata of the society.
It is also a practice to close ones umbrella as a sign of showing respect to seniors, teachers and
Sarpanchs(head of Panchayets) of villages. Violations of any of these customs are held impertinence or
imposturous.
Etymology:-The word Umbrella was derived from the Latin word umbella meaning an umbra or
shade. The suffix (-elle) is used in French to mean little; so the term Umbrelle or Umbrella means
Little Shadow. Similarly the word Parasol is a portmanteau word combining Para and sol. Para
means shield and sol means Sun. So, Parasol means something to protect or shield sunlight.
Bumbershoot was an American slang to mean a very big Umbrella mainly to be used in sea-beaches
providing shade to more than one man. The Umbrellas used by various shoppers now a day in their
street corner shops and picnic parties to accommodate a bigger space are Bumbershoots.
Parts of an Umbrella:-

March of Umbrella throughout the history:- Originating in 21st Ad in the Middle East and China,
Umbrella required nearly 1750 years to reach France and another 100 years to cross the English Channel
and reach England.

i.

Middle-east- The ancient sculptures of Persia represent the usage of Parasols. Parasols
were held over the head of most of the kings by an attendant. Sir John Malcolm has an
article on the subject in his 1815 "History of Persia."

ii.

China-One of the earliest home of umbrella was china, where three thousand years ago
first umbrellas started to be made from silk and paper. Because of their scarcity and high
cost, umbrellas quickly became symbol of power in China and surrounding Asian countries.
To differentiate themselves from the rest of population, Chinese royal members carried
only red or yellow umbrellas, while rest used blue ones. As the centuries went on, cost of
Chinese umbrellas went down which enabled its use by general population and even males.
Personal use was not the only application for umbrellas, and many innovative designs were
introduced even as early as 3rd century AD. In all written records, the oldest reference to a
collapsible umbrella dates to the year 21 AD, when Wang Mang (r. 923) had one designed
for a ceremonial four-wheeled carriage.

iii.

Oriental Countries-Surrounding countries adopted the umbrella into their tradition, often
showcasing intricate designs and artwork with great pride, especially by royal members in
Korea, Burma and Siam and India as well.

iv.

India- Mention of Umbrella is found in the Mahabharata. Jamadagni created an umbrella to


provide shade to her wife Renuka. All the chariots were covered by umbrellas. Almost all
the Monarchs right from the Gupta Age used to wear Umbrellas. In fine Umbrellas had
distinct Royal association. Mughal Monarchs also used umbrellas as a sign of novelty and
supremacy. In India and Myanmar (Burma) an umbrella

v.

is called Chhataa.

Path to Europe: Starting in the 16th century umbrella became popular to the western
world, especially in rainy northern Europe. Such important fashion statement did not stay
in Asia for long, and travelers from the west soon carried Chinese umbrellas to continental
Europe who was just exiting Dark Ages and was eager to adopt new fashion from distant

lands. Enchanted by the artful and feminine Chinese designs, umbrellas soon took over the
female nobility in Italy, France and England, where they managed to slowly evolve umbrella
into the general accessory that is today used by everyone.
vi.

In England-The Persian traveler and writer, Jonas Hanway (1712-1786), carried and used an
umbrella publicly in England for thirty years, and he popularized the use of umbrellas
among men. The first all umbrella shop was called "James Smith and Sons". The shop
opened in 1830, and is still located at 53 New Oxford St., in London, England.

vii.

In America: In American slang umbrella is called Bumbershoot. Its a colloquial term for
umbrella, probably coined in the 19th century as a portmanteau of the words umbrella and
parachute. But the term has become dated and mainly used to make caricature or
vulgar humour. It resembles to Dickens Gamp in Martin Chuzzlewi.

Umbrella Hat: Umbrella Hats were originally created for children in the hilly regions where rain was
frequent and the passersby got no time to open his umbrella and also for the horse-riders who could
not hold the Umbrella by their hands. But, now it is used by modern fashionable adults also. It is similar
to that of an Assamese Japi or Headgear and a Bengali Mathla used by the cultivators while
cultivating the field during the rainy season.

Bengali Headgear is a quite different thing. It is used by the groom at the time of wedding. In
Bengali it is called a Topor. It is, in general, used only once in a life time.

Summing-Up: Apart from their practical uses, Umbrellas have also become part of the paraphernalia
for the stage artists of acrobatics. It is used as defense equipment. There are some specially prepared
Umbrellas which are used as sword-like weapons also. In a word, Umbrella is a part and parcel of
civilized life and living. It is a sign of human civilization. It kept evolving with every turn of civilization
and established its claim as ones cultural heritage. Acceptance of umbrella as an integral part of culture
took greatest hold in Japan, where even today pale female skin represents a measure of beauty.
Last of all, it may be a good idea to recall a very famous poem on Umbrella entitled The parasol is the
umbrella's daughter by Emily Dickinson where the poetess highlights a father-daughter relationship
between an Umbrella and a Parasol.
The parasol is the umbrella's daughter.

The parasol is the umbrella's daughter,

And associates with a fan


While her father abuts the tempest
And abridges the rain.

The former assists a siren


In her serene display;
But her father is borne and honored,
And borrowed to this day.

-:finis:References, Quotes, images, Links:i.www.wikipedia.org


ii.www. merriam-webster online dictionary.com
iii. www.google.com/site/ancientchineseinvention

iv. http://www.poetrysoup.com/famous/poem/6956/the_parasol_is_the_umbrellas_daughter
v. http://www.chinaculture.org
vi. www.google.co.in

Hi!

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