Ever since human beings have ventured out, they have looked for ways to protect themselves from the sun, UV radiation, heat, and damage. While they would have often taken umbrage under the shade of a tree to rest and relax, they still searched for a more portable device that can shield them from the sun.
While they say that necessity is the mother of all inventions, humankind did go ahead and invent umbrellas. Slowly these devices evolved and now we even use them for residential and commercial purposes. While a nice-looking umbrella can add a touch of modernity to the aesthetic of your outdoor space like your backyard, patio, garden, or pool area, the same market umbrella can also enhance your café or restaurant’s outdoor dining zone.
In this blog, though, we would take a look at the long regal history of a market umbrella.
Etymology of umbrella
Have you ever wondered what is the origin of the word umbrella? Well, it comes from the Latin word umbra, which translates to shadow in English. We hope that by telling you the etymological root of the umbrella, we are able to answer the age-old question: What came first? The rain umbrella or the shade umbrella?
Origin story of market umbrella
The concept of having a market umbrella can’t be traced back to a single incident or origin point. However, one can find the precursor in ancient civilisations right from Egypt through to China. Interestingly, back in those days, the market umbrellas were typically made from sticks, trees and palm fronds. The development path though is quite linear and it all makes sense.
As we have already mentioned above, people used to rest under trees in the ancient ages. So trees were considered nature’s umbrella but with one small caveat: they weren’t portable. That’s why people would choose to develop shade structures near trees or where trees would grow so that they could be moved and set up at the beginning and end of each day. The luxury of a shade wasn’t lost on those early adopters of the umbrella as it became a symbol of wealth and status.
This is also a major reason why you would see the presence of umbrellas in all their forms across historical records such as paintings, vases and mosaics associated with the rulers and leaders of people who, with their wealth and influence, could afford to have such a symbol of health, wellbeing and protection at their whim.
It really feels surreal then that today the café umbrellas and pool umbrellas and umbrellas for restaurants are so readily available while they used to be a prized commodity a few thousand years ago.
With time, agriculture evolved and it ushered in new practices. While people were well-off doing farming at one point in time, they were looking for more ways to earn because farming technology had advanced to the point where less human energy was required to feed the populations. Therefore, the world was seeing an urban shift in population even as commerce was thriving.
The people who would still engage themselves in farming and agriculture would be bringing their crops to city centres to sell to people who had moved on from sustenance farming. As a result, these bustling markets would start to bulge at the seams forcing vendors to start peddling their goods outdoors in the sun. This growth in enterprise forced an increase in the uptake of shaded structures and the adoption of the market umbrella to protect the farmers and their wares.
These market umbrellas would go on to serve people for a lengthy period of time and didn’t see another innovation till closer to the industrial revolution. With an improvement in manufacturing processes, businessmen would now focus more on developing quality-of-life features of an umbrella. They would look to add more enhancements which would, in turn, increase the productivity of an umbrella. And thus the umbrella, as we know it now, started to develop.
The innovations that came into being were varied. We would now get options in patio and cantilever umbrellas that can be used as pool umbrellas or café umbrellas. There were umbrellas for restaurants with retractable canopies, designed to protect us from the sun and rain. Umbrellas also came in different sizes and shape like round, rectangular and square. The fabric of the umbrella also changed and so did the frames from wood-based to aluminium and fiberglass structures.
Market umbrellas multiplied across the world with these innovations. There has also been a constant focus on making improvements in the café umbrella’s usability and strength so that it can stand up to modern standards of product design and quality. Today, we can even notice a smart tech boom happening where the umbrella is going through another round of innovation. In order to showcase umbrellas as luxury status symbols, people are accessorising them with smart lights and integrated tech.
Future of market umbrella
Now, you know that the market umbrella has a long-storied history. While it was initially used as a symbol of nobility and opulence, it later turned to aid the farmers. But, one thing has remained constant over the years — its purpose and value haven’t diminished a bit as it still continues to shade us from the sun and rain as we enjoy time outdoors. And we are sure that it is going to remain the same in the future despite all the innovations.
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