The history of umbrellas

The umbrella was invented in China. It appeared for the first time in China 3500 years ago. There are several popular legends about the invention of this famous accessory, including the most sent out, concerning Luban. According to the text "Eclats de Jade", the umbrella was invented by the wife of Luban, Yun, who was both very attentive and anxious for her husband who worked hard all the day. According to the folklore, it always rained when Yun brought Luban his daily meal. Therefore Luban built shelters on the way of his wife in order to keep her dry. Then inspired by children who used leafs of lotus to protect them against the rain, Luban contrived the first umbrella creating a bendable structure covered-up with fabrics.

In Ancient China, the umbrella was not only a common daily accessory but it also had a sociological meaning. A the end of the Wei dynasty, the umbrella was used for official ceremonies and rites. It was named the "Luo umbrella". According to the Zuo Zhuan, Jin book, the Luo accessory was the symbol of both the dignity and status, as was the official gown. For instance, the official members of the Han dynasty used green umbrellas and the Emperor of the Song dynasty used red and yellow ones. Emperors and officials used this accessory to show that they protected their nation.

As the umbrella pointed to both the fortune and the honour, it was often used during wedding ceremonies in China. It was also used for opera, song, dance and acrobatic art.

With the increase of exchanges with others countries, umbrellas gradually spread in the whole world. For example, under the Tang dynasty, Japan dispatched nineteen groups of missionaries to learn about the Chinese civilisation. Thus, the technical of umbrellas conception were introduced in Japan. At the middle of the 18th century, English businessman brought back umbrellas after their trip in China, which caused an important "revolution" in the United Kingdom. Nowadays, this famous accessory is indispensable for Great Britain …

Currently, in China, umbrellas may be the most common accessory with bikes. More than 90% are made in this country and then exported all around the world. Chinese use them when it rains as well as sunny days. They have created bikes and motorbikes with a support behind the saddle or on the handlebars, in order to fix their favourite accessory on their vehicles. Thus they can go everywhere whilst being protected against the rain and the harmful sun's rays. You can find in China many different and amazing models of "brollys" as they are used as fashionable accessories for the inhabitants of the country. That is why they provide a wide range of the famous products with many shapes and colours. The most common umbrella in Japan is transparent, made of transparent plastic and you can buy it almost everywhere, in kiosks and supermarkets. The traditional one, named wagasa, is made of bamboo and Washi, a Japanese paper. It is a really beautiful accessory which can be used to protect you against the rain as well as an object of decoration for your house. There are also the wagasa parasols, which are non oil-applied but which are as nice as the other ones and more durable

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