Umbrella frog

Rihanna – umbrella – ella ella eh eh eh

Rihanna umbrellaThe Rihanna influence

Rihanna (Robyn Rihanna Fenty) won her first Grammy with her song “Umbrella” – which you’re probably singing in your head right now – ella ella eh eh eh?

She banned fans from bringing umbrellas to her U.K. concerts, as she was afraid people would get injured if fans tried to copy her dance moves with the umbrellas when she performed “Umbrella.”

 

The umbrella’s history

The basic umbrella was invented over four thousand years ago. We have seen evidence of umbrellas in the ancient art and artifacts of Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and China.

Umbrella frog
Photo credit: Caters News Agency

These ancient umbrellas or parasols, were first designed to provide shade from the sun. The Chinese were the first to waterproof their umbrellas for use as rain protection. They waxed and lacquered their paper parasols in order to use them for rain.

Origins of the term “umbrella”

The word “umbrella” comes from the Latin root word “umbra“, meaning shade or shadow. Starting in the 16th century the umbrella became popular to the western world, especially in the rainy weather of northern Europe. At first it was considered only an accessory suitable for women. Then the Persian traveller and writer, Jonas Hanway (1712-86), carried and used an umbrella publicly in England for thirty years, he popularized umbrella use among men. English gentleman often referred to their umbrellas as a “Hanway.”

James Smith and Sons

The first all-umbrella shop was called “James Smith and Sons”. The shop opened in 1830, and is still located at 53 New Oxford Street in London, England.

James Smith and Sons, London
James Smith and Sons – doing good business in rainy London

The early European umbrellas were made of wood or whalebone and covered with alpaca or oiled canvas. The artisans made the curved handles for the umbrellas out of hard woods like ebony, and were well paid for their efforts.

English Steels Company

In 1852, Samuel Fox invented the steel ribbed umbrella design. Fox also founded the “English Steels Company“, and claimed to have invented the steel ribbed umbrella as a way of using up stocks of farthingale stays, steel stays used in women’s corsets.

Collapsible umbrellaAfter that, compact collapsible umbrellas were the next major technical innovation in umbrella manufacture, over a century later.