What were umbrellas originally called?


Umbrellas, the handy device that helps shield us against the elements, have been around for centuries. They come in many shapes and sizes, and are often a necessity during rainy and sunny days alike. But did you know that the umbrella actually has a fascinating history behind it, and that it wasn't always called by the name we know it today?

In this article, we will explore the origin of the umbrella and how it has evolved over time. We'll delve into its early beginnings and how it has made its way through various cultures and eras. So, without further ado, let's jump right in.

The Early Umbrella

Umbrellas, or rather, their early predecessors, have been around as far back as ancient civilizations. The first umbrellas were made from various materials such as silk, paper, and papyrus, and were used for different reasons. In China, the umbrella was primarily used as protection against the sun, and were often carried by emperors and noblemen. In ancient Greece and Rome, umbrellas were used to shade important individuals such as high-ranking officials and women of high standing.

Interestingly, the first umbrellas were not waterproof, and were primarily used as parasols. It wasn't until the 16th century that umbrellas were made waterproof, when they became more prevalent in Europe.

The Name Game

So, if umbrellas weren't always called umbrellas, what were they called? In ancient times, the Chinese referred to their sun-shielding device as "Gumo," which translates to "umbrella with oiled paper." In the Sanskrit language, the term was "Chhatra," which translates to "parasol." In Persia, the umbrella was called "Kasseh," which translates to "small tent." It wasn't until the late 16th century that the term "umbrella" first appeared in English.

The Evolution of the Umbrella

Over time, the umbrella has gone through many changes and advancements. In the 18th and 19th centuries, umbrellas became increasingly popular in Europe, and were often used by gentlemen as fashionable accessories. These early umbrellas were made from materials such as whalebone, wood, and silk, and were often adorned with intricate designs and patterns.

In the 20th century, advancements in technology allowed for the creation of more durable and affordable umbrellas. Materials such as steel, aluminum, and polyester were used to make strong and waterproof umbrellas that could withstand even the heaviest of rains.

Modern Umbrellas

Today, umbrellas come in many shapes and sizes, from compact and travel-sized to large golf umbrellas. They also come with additional features such as automatic opening mechanisms and wind-resistant designs. And while they still serve their practical purpose of shielding us from the rain and sun, they've also become a popular accessory in the fashion world.


The umbrella has come a long way from its early beginnings as a sun-shield. From its roots in ancient civilizations to its modern-day counterparts, the umbrella has evolved and adapted over time. And though it wasn't always called by the name we know it today, the umbrella remains a handy and essential device that continues to protect us from the elements.


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