What was the original purpose of the umbrella?


The umbrella is a common sight during rainy days, and it has become an indispensable tool in many people's lives. But have you ever wondered what its original purpose was? The umbrella has been around for centuries, and it has undergone many changes and transformations over time. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of the umbrella and explore its original purpose.

A Brief History of the Umbrella

The umbrella's origins can be traced back to ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome. These societies used parasols, which were essentially canopies placed above the head to provide shade from the sun. Parasols were typically made from materials like palm leaves and were often carried by servants to protect their masters from the sun's harsh rays.

The umbrella as we know it today has its roots in ancient China. The first umbrellas were designed to protect people from the rain, and they were made from oiled paper or silk. The Chinese used umbrellas not only for practical purposes but also as a status symbol. It was considered a sign of wealth and privilege to own an umbrella, and only the wealthy elite had access to them.

Umbrellas soon spread to other parts of Asia and the Middle East, where they were used to protect people from both rain and sun. The design of the umbrella continued to evolve, and different materials such as bamboo, wood, and metal were used to create stronger and more durable versions.

The Original Purpose of the Umbrella

The original purpose of the umbrella was to protect people from the rain. In ancient China, umbrellas were an essential tool for anyone who needed to travel on foot. They were particularly popular with scholars, who would use them to keep their manuscripts dry. The umbrella also had an important cultural significance – it was seen as a sign of respect and duty towards one's parents, as it was believed that the act of carrying an umbrella would protect them from harm.

Umbrellas made their way to Europe in the 16th century, and they quickly became popular among the fashionable elite. However, in Europe, umbrellas were initially seen as a luxury item, rather than a practical tool. They were made from expensive materials like silk and were often adorned with intricate designs and patterns.

It wasn't until the 18th century that umbrellas began to be mass-produced and made more affordable for the general public. With the rise of industrial production, umbrellas could be made more quickly and efficiently, and they began to be seen as a practical tool for everyone, not just the wealthy elite.

The Evolution of the Umbrella

Over the centuries, the umbrella has undergone many changes and transformations. Today, we have a wide variety of umbrella designs, including the classic stick umbrella, the compact umbrella, and the automatic umbrella.

The compact umbrella, also known as the folding umbrella, was invented in the 19th century. It was designed to be more portable and convenient than the traditional stick umbrella, and it could be easily folded up and carried in a bag or pocket.

The automatic umbrella was invented in the 20th century and is a more recent innovation. It has a mechanism that allows it to open and close automatically, making it even more convenient for people on the go.


The umbrella has come a long way since its origins in ancient China. While its original purpose was to protect people from the rain, it has become much more than that. Today, umbrellas are not only a practical tool but also a fashion accessory and a statement piece.

As we continue to evolve and innovate, it will be interesting to see what new umbrella designs and features are developed in the future. But no matter how much the umbrella changes, its original purpose will always remain the same – to provide protection from the elements.


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