Thursday, March 22, 2012

Technology for Granted. Umbrella History. Umbrella for Defense, Umbrella for Position. The Mobile Shade Machine.

Technology. What we take for granted.

Umbrellia. Umbrellania. Parapluie. Parasol.
In case it Rains. Or Worse. 
Devices of Wax and Metal and Lacquerl Some Spiny, Collapsible.
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The umbrella idea.  Anathema to Republicans who seek to deprive the underclass of umbrellas.  The underclass protests, as they observe the sea of umbrellas on Bond Street. Spare me the elements so I, too, may arrive at work, if I have a job, reasonably dry. May I live!  I am in the bloom of my life. Need I be battered by privatized clouds?
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Consider the history:  Greeks at Sparta, serious life and death, with warriors' shields up against the rain of arrows from the Persian side; see a review of Steven Pressfield's Gates of Fire, Thermopylae with any novel's accuracies and fabrications (no matter, a great read, Weck up to thees!) at  http://www.historicalnovelsociety.org/solander%20files/spinterview.htm. 
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Move to the overall history of umbrella use among ordinary folk and royalty in 4000 BCE China, Assyria, Egypt, see http://inventors.about.com/od/uvstartinventions/a/Umbrella.htm.  From there to iconography:  Mary Poppins and Traveler's Insurance (do they still own their old logo?), and Tara's lawn parties in Gone with the Wind,  and Gene hot-footin' in Singin' in the Rain, and parasols and blunderbusses, and oh, the orgy of elevated spiny glories against sun, rain, death. 
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Then:  the umbrella to make a point.



Umbrella as Royalty Accoutrement:
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All those mundane war and weather uses pale when confronted with Royalty and the Umbrella, the canopy of gorgeousness, devoutly to be wished by any culture, by those who seek it. Visit the article by Stewart Gordon q5 http://www.saudiaramcoworld.com/issue/201104/in.the.shade.of.the.royal.umbrella.htm 

This SaudiAramco World periodical is a must-read for anyone interested in Middle Eastern history, culture, topics. Illustrations, good writing, information, detail, glossy heavy paper, a respite from digital tap-taps and click.  Find a wedding umbrella with cut-outs, makes a groom a king. For a king, the canopy umbrella was not only shade, but status, signifying power in all important areas of life and hunt. Confer an umbrella on someone, and it signifies reliance on the loyalty of that person. You do for me, I do for you. The square umbrella signified the Pharaoh's shadow.  The article notes that they still dominate market carts in Egypt.

In China, enter the silk, segmented umbrella signifying rank or royalty.  Arriving in Japan, it became more ordinary. But in Korea, it remained "royal." Korean art would not depict the Emperor, but it would show the horse (unmanned) and the umbrella.

In Assyria, they became roundy and pointed. In Greece, the ladies took it over, the parasol function, against the evils of the sun. Wisdom spots, liver spots, age spots, ageless.  In Rome, it was rejected by men. In Mesopotamia, it continued to reign supreme, including for men.

Buddhists also adopted it. And in India. Siddhartha's search for enlightenment became identified with the umbrella shown over his head. "Buddha of the White Umbrella."  Multiple umbrellas also became an architectural form.  Among Hindus, umbrellas also shield kings.

In 1911, while in India, King George of England paraded beneath the royal umbrella.

The Persians adopted the Royal Umbrella. Christians liked it in Constantinople, 350 ACE or so. It fell away among Muslims, 700's, because they avoided depicting people; and preferred calligraphy and geometry.

In 800 ACE, the umbrella seems to have reached southeast Asia. Do click on the Aramco site -- the photographs are wonderful, and the narrative held my attention so I forgot dinner.

In Europe, was it in the 900's that it appeared, see the old Utrecht Psalter. An angel holds one over King David.  Englishmen generally, later, disavowed the umbrella as not manly enough, but it was fine for clergy, being outdoors so much doing what they do.

Back to Egypt:  11th Century Fatimids liked their umbrellas. The Caliph decided who was entitled. It flourished in sub-Saharan Africa, with converging trade routes, religious migrations, kings' regalia. In East Africa also, praise the umbrella.  What else could rise above the head of the important one, and signal the arrival, the presence, the departure.

Then Ottomans, and Turks and we all love umbrellas.

The conclusion of the article is that the umbrella is one one invention that then spread.  Instead, it was reinvented some four times, in different places, with the spread going out from each.. 

Practical, communicative, societally reinforcing as to who has rank, and cheery. 

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