Wednesday 3 April 2013

Brolly, Parapluie or Bumbershoot

Fingerpainting courtesy 

Today I had umbrellas on my mind because I put up a bulletin board outside BCS's Kindergarten room full of fingerpainted umbrellas.  Some had the primary colours, some were a forest green and one was a mixture of all the colours -- brown.  They were quite pretty!

There are several terms for umbrella.  Generally, an umbrella is used to protect one from the rain while a parasol is used to protect one from the sun.  Brolly is the British slang, parapluie is the French term and Bumbershoot is the 19th Century American phrase for an umbrella.

The first reference to the umbrella dates back to 21 AD in China.  Apparently, when the Chinese emperor went hunting, 24 attendants with umbrellas went ahead of him.  Middle Easterner royalty were also in the habit of using umbrellas.  In Ancient Egypt, royalty would ride in carriages covered by large umbrellas.  In Ancient Greece, commoners used umbrellas, usually females.  Such was the case in Ancient Rome where there are several reference to umbrellas in poetry.  Umbrellas did not appear in the general population in France and England until the middle of the 17th Century.  Up until then, Brits used cloaks to combat the wet weather.

References to the brolly can be found in poetry.  "The Gingham Umbrella" was written by American Laura Elizabeth Richards.  "An Old Umbrella" was composed by Christopher Pearse Cranch.  "The Mounted Umbrella" was written by American Gertrude Stein.

The bumbershoot can also be found in famous paintings over the course of history.

Charles LeBrun's painting of chancellor with parapluie circa 1670 courtesy

Edouard Manet's painting of "Woman with a Parasol" circa 1881 courtesy 

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