Why purchase a patio umbrella for your patio, deck or garden?
- To keep cool from the oppressive heat of the sun
- To add refined elegance to your garden, patio or deck
- To protect your patio furniture from the sun, rain & snow
- To help avoid sunburn, light rain & other annoying outdoor elements
- To add another functional design element that will marvel guests & neighbors
A Definition of Umbrellas & Parasols
Umbrellas and parasols have been used since ancient times to protect outdoor areas and people from the rain or the sun; historically an umbrella is used to keep out rain, while a parasol is used to protect from the sun. Have you ever seen a painting of French or English ladies from past centuries having tea outside? They typically have a closed parasol at their side or an open parasol above, protecting them from the sun. Parasols were often attached to a table, while umbrellas were viewed as portable protection from the rain. Today umbrellas and parasols mean both fixed and portable sources of shade and protection.
Brands of Umbrellas
Treasure Garden – A great mix of push tilt, market and cantilever umbrellas, in a variety of finishes and canopy colors. Treasure Garden also offers patio furniture covers, umbrella lights and garden pavilions.
Leisure Select – An economic and reliable manufacturer of market, auto tilt, push tilt and cantilever umbrellas, Leisure Select also offers patio furniture, pet beds and decorative umbrella bases.
Tropitone – A famous and widely-used brand known for patio furniture found poolside in hotels and resorts, Tropitone offers umbrella canopies with both typical and rare canopy designs and shapes.
Did You Know?French President Nicholas Sarkozy owns an exceptional umbrella worth £10,000 that's been armor-plated with Kevlar for protection from assassins and other attackers called a Para Pactum.
The History of Umbrellas
Examples of umbrellas and parasols can be found throughout the ancient world, from the Indian subcontinent and China to Greece and Rome and even the ancient Aztec Empire in America. Obviously the need to protect one from the sun, rain and other elements is a universal need, so it’s quite possible the development of the umbrella and parasol occurred in many different areas at many different times.
The history of umbrellas focuses on two sources: the ancient Greeks and ancient Chinese. As far back as the 5th century B.C.E. Greek women utilized the parasol for protection from the sun and rain. It is considered to be a mostly female item, with a slave typically carrying it to cover their owner. In ancient Rome it was used in much the same fashion. Ancient Roman records indicate it was stolen from the Etruscans, but it could have originated in Greece or even China.
The Chinese first documented the folding umbrella, with many of the mechanisms found in current umbrellas, such as sliding levers, being used. According to Chinese records, Wang Mang in the year 21 A.D. designed a collapsible umbrella for a four-wheeled carriage. But actual physical examples have been found dating further back; a great example lies in the Terracotta Army found in Quin Shihuang’s tomb from 210 B.C.E., with a carriage clearly fixed with a large parasol to protect the rider from the rain and sun.
Archeologists discovered a collapsible umbrella from the tomb of Wang Guang in Korea reportedly from the 1st Century A.D., and historians theorize the concept of the umbrella probably dates a few more hundred years before this example, possibly even as far back as the Zhou Dynasty in the 6th century B.C.E. Even the Chinese character for umbrella resembles our modern sunshades, and many theorize the use of umbrellas arose from the flying banners used by ancient Chinese armies while engaged in combat. The very first umbrellas were probably a combination of reeds and large leaves, yet no physical examples have been discovered from ancient sites.
The design of these umbrellas travelled out from China via the Silk Road into Persia and eventually Europe. Examples similar to current oil-paper umbrellas have been found in ancient carvings found in Greece and Egypt, and in cities such as Rome, Nineveh and Persepolis. In each case it seems as if umbrellas or parasols were used as a distinction of the upper class, being strictly used by royalty or members of the royal class and carried by slaves or minions to shade their masters.
Regardless of the origins, the umbrella was mostly ignored by European royalty until the 17th century when it exploded in use amongst women and men of that class. Many of the images of early European umbrellas found in paintings closely Chinese models, so many historians consider the Chinese the source of the European umbrella. The curved handle you see today probably originated from the historical use of the umbrella; typically the parasol was carried by a servant over the head of a royal or member of the upper class, and a sloped handle made this an easy endeavor.
From these early European examples came the modern umbrella used by most of the western world, including here in the United States. Umbrellas and parasols can be found attached to tables and chaise lounges, or found carried by individuals for protection from the rain, with pocket versions available for increased portability.
Featured # 1:
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Featured # 2:
6' Beach Umbrella
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Featured # 3:
7.5' Collar Tilt
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