Dating antique parasols
The umbrella served in this case as a defense against rain rather than sun.
Another distinction can be made between manually operated umbrellas and spring-loaded automatic umbrellas which spring open at the press of a button.Larger parasols capable of blocking the sun for several people are often used as fixed or semi-fixed devices, used with patio tables or other outdoor furniture, or as points of shade on a sunny beach.The collapsible/folding umbrella, the direct predecessor to the modern umbrella, originated in China. An umbrella may also be called a brolly (UK slang), parapluie (nineteenth century, French origin), rainshade, gamp (British, informal, dated), or bumbershoot (American slang).Umbrellas and parasols are primarily hand-held portable devices sized for personal use.The largest hand-portable umbrellas are golf umbrellas.An even older source on the umbrella is perhaps the ancient book of Chinese ceremonies, called Zhou Li (The Rites of Zhou), dating 2,400 years ago, which directs that the dais should be placed upon the imperial cars.
The figure of this dais contained in Zhou-Li, and the description of it given in the explanatory commentary of Lin-hi-ye, both identify it with an umbrella.
Vase iconography bears witness to a transition from men carrying swords, then spears, then staffs, then parasols, to eventually nothing. According to Gorius, the umbrella came to Rome from the Etruscans who came to Rome for protection, and certainly it appears not infrequently on Etruscan vases and pottery, as also on later gems and rubies.
The parasol, at that time of its fashion, displayed the luxury of the user's lifestyle. In the Scirophoria, the feast of Athene Sciras, a white parasol was borne by the priestesses of the goddess from the Acropolis to the Phalerus. One gem, figured by Pacudius, shows an umbrella with a bent handle, sloping backwards.
However, the tradition existing in China is that it originated in standards and banners waving in the air, hence the use of the umbrella was often linked to high-ranking (though not necessarily royalty) in China.
On at least one occasion, twenty-four umbrellas were carried before the Emperor when he went out hunting.
Some investigators have supposed that its invention was first created by tying large leaves to bough-like ribs (the branching out parts of an umbrella).