On a rainy day there’s hardly a device as useful for staying dry as an umbrella. They provide a convenience that practically no other item is able to match during wet weather. Of course there’s the rain coat, but, after a while in one they will generate some sweat and you will be just as wet beneath it as you are on the outside of it. Kind of silly isn’t it? Umbrellas on the other hand are small, portable and incredibly efficient at keeping you dry. But what many people may not be aware of is that their initial use was not for keeping the rain from spoiling our day. The umbrella was invented for shade, not rain.
The actual date that the umbrella was invented no one knows for sure. Their documented use dates back around 4000 years, as their use can be seen in ancient artifacts and art. Also making it difficult to pinpoint the exact date the umbrella was invented was their widespread use. The ancient umbrella can be seen in use from Egypt to China, and all during the same period. But these ancient first umbrellas were utterly useless at keeping you dry. Their intended use was to provide the user with shade.
The first umbrellas invented that were used keep the user dry appeared in China. Although, once again the exact date is unknown, the Chinese waterproofed their paper parasols with wax and lacquer that made them impervious to rain. But even with this ingenious development the use of them as a portable mechanism for shade continued for centuries.
The use of umbrellas didn’t exactly catch on. Initially it was used only by women, as men thought they were too feminine. It wasn’t until the 18th century that men in Europe began to use them.