History of Umbrellas

Derived from the Latin word Umbra, which means shade. The first umbrellas were for protection from the sun and were possibly inspired from the canopy of a tree, which would offer a cool shade from the heat of the day. The origins of the umbrella are most probably China in 11th century B.C. although ancient sculptures have been found in Nineveh, Persepolis and Thebes (Egypt) depicting the use of umbrellas.

There is also evidence of Umbrellas or Parasols being used at the same period in India. The first umbrellas were most probably a converted branch of a tree (for example giant Banana Leaves) or a hat on a stick, which gave rise to the umbrella, as we know it today.

The word Parasol was derived from the Latin words papare, which means to prepare, and sol, which means sun. Generally a parasol is now regarded as a sunshade and umbrella as a rain protector, but this distinction only evolved during the late 18th century. Before then umbrellas and parasols both offered protection against the sun, but that parasols were carried over the person it shaded rather than an umbrella, which was carried by the person it shaded. However, there is some evidence of Romans using umbrellas to protect a person from the rain, but the idea never caught on, as it was the Greeks who popularised the idea of umbrellas being used as a sunshade.


Ironically enough there is no evidence that ancient civilisations used promotional umbrellas for brand awareness. It seems branded umbrellas is a modern day idea for giving high quality promotional products as part of a corporate brand and  marketing strategy!