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Origin of the Umbrella

Extraordinary ImageUmbrella: 1400 B.C. Mesopotamia

An emblem of rank and distinction, the umbrella originated in Mesopotamia 3,400 years ago as an extension of the fan.  For these early umbrellas did not protect Mesopotamians from rain, a rarity in their desert land, but from harsh sun.  And umbrellas continued to serve primarily as sunshades for centuries, a fact evident in the word “umbrella,” derived from the Latin umbra, “shade.”  In many African societies today, an umbrella bearer walks behind the tribal chief to shield his head from sun- reflecting the ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian tradition.