What is the link between umbrellas and self development, personal growth, self growth and personal development? They are an amazing invention that, over a period of about 1,700 years, have constantly developed with the times. They can teach us a trick or two about the importance of never standing still.
Most people own an umbrella whether they work from home, are in the corporate world or do not work at all. However few know the history behind this wonderful gadget. Do you know when it was first invented and who invented it?
Umbrellas (or parasols) are defined as "a canopy device designed to protect from precipitation or sunlight." The word evolved from the Latin 'umbella' ('umbel' being a flat-topped rounded flower) and 'umbra' meaning 'shaded', and from the Ancient Greek 'ombros' meaning shade or shadow.
Collapsible umbrellas are said to have been invented in ancient China, approximately 1,700 years ago, however an ancient source arises in the ancient book of Chinese ceremonies entitled Zhou-Li (The Rites of Zhou), dated 2400 years ago. The Chinese character for umbrella is in fact a pictograph resembling modern day umbrellas in design. It is thought that its invention was first created by tying large leaves to bough-like ribs.
Umbrellas became almost extinct in Europe during the Middle Ages. It is thought that people depended on cloaks rather than umbrellas for protection against storms. They were rediscovered as a business opportunity in the late 16th century when it was introduced as the 'parapluie' (Fr: 'against the rain').
They then went into general use in the late 18th century. Jonas Hanway, the founder of the Magdalen Hospital, has the credit of being "the first man who ventured to dare public reproach and ridicule by carrying one habitually in London." He died in 1786 and is said to have carried umbrellas for thirty years.
Victorian umbrellas had frames of wood or baleen but these were expensive and hard to fold when wet. Samuel Fox invented steel-ribbed umbrellas in 1852. In the mid-19th century the 'parasol' (Fr: 'against the sun') emerged.
Parasols were distinguished from umbrellas in solely being a sunshade and became an accessory of dress until the emergence of the automobile. (In Ancient Greece it was an indispensable accessory to a lady of fashion and its use was confined to women. For a man to carry one was considered a mark of effeminacy. ) Today, parasols are generally fixed at one point and usually used with outdoor furniture whereas umbrellas are almost exclusively hand-held portable devices.
Umbrellas have undergone numerous improvements over the centuries. Modern designs usually have a telescoping steel trunk and new materials such as cotton, plastic film and nylon have generally replaced the original silk, oiled paper, bamboo and wood. Today we now have the 'brolly' (a British and Australia slang) and the 'bumbershoot' (an Americanism from the late 19th century) and a multitude of other designs from huge Golf umbrellas to miniature ones you can pop into the smallest bag.
Umbrellas and Self Development - Summary
The umbrella has never stood still yet its ‘core’ has remained steadfast. What a great mentor for success. Is that not what Self Development and Personal Growth are all about? (Never standing still and always ready to move with the times whilst discovering new skills and ways of operating? )
In fact, quite apart from the applications mentioned above, there are more than 10 very different and fascinating uses for umbrellas. You can read more about these in the article entitled ‘The Multi-Talented Umbrella’! (See the ‘Other Self Development Articles’ link below)
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