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Focusing On Umbrellas

From the famous Hollywood scene in which Gene Kelly is singing in the rain and dances around the city’s streets holding an umbrella, to the hot summer beaches where umbrellas are used as sun protection devices, umbrellas are always in fashion and most importantly, always in need. Found in a great variety of rain, beach, patio, pool, or parasol umbrellas, and produced in different sizes and color schemes, umbrellas have been an element of focus for centuries and a device that once even signified social class, royalty and power.

Primarily the umbrella was used as a sunshade device, usually carried by ladies in order to protect their fair skins’ tones from the harmful sunlight. But the umbrella was not a western invention. From the ancient representations of Egyptian, Indian and Chinese Kings and Emperors, umbrellas appeared over the royal heads as a symbol of power and importance. The prestige and symbolic significance of the umbrella is well-documented in different cultures and ancient scripts have mentioned its role in relaying the importance of a person to the rest of the world. This simple, unique device was later used also for ecclesiastical reasons and in many churches in Rome there still hangs a large umbrella symbol of the power vested in the church leaders to rule over Christian believers. In these southern climates, the umbrellas were over the centuries turned to a necessary sun-protection gadget and its use was highly desirable by ladies while for men it was regarded as a sign of effeminacy.

Nevertheless, things changed over the years and in 17th century England, umbrellas were already used as rain protectors. In particular, Jonas Hanway, was the first Englishman credited with having habitually carried an umbrella during his frequent travels. Those years, the umbrella had a long heavy handle, with ribs of whalebone or cane and sometimes even made of metal. The covering material consisted of oiled silk or cotton and it was William Sangster who in 1848 patented the use of alpaca as an umbrella’s covering material. A few years later, in 1852, Samuel Fox was the one who introduced the innovative “U” design for the umbrella’s steel-ribbed skeleton so as to combine lightness, increase strength and improve its ribs elasticity.

Today, umbrellas are used by all both as a sun and rain protection mechanism. As classes and power roles are now signified by a different, more expensive set of apparatus, umbrella manufacturers have promoted a different image for the contemporary umbrellas’ uses. Given the fact that umbrellas can now be produced by companies as part of their promotional materials, exactly like jockey hats or T-shirts, carrying a logo, a brand name or a slogan, people are accustomed to see it everywhere. All over the world today, people have learned to rely on umbrellas so as to walk safely from their house to their car or metro-stop during mild or more severe weather conditions.

About the Author: John Gibb is the owner of umbrella sources
, For more information on umbrellas check out

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