Umbrellas have been around for centuries, but not necessarily in the common concept we see on the streets today. Umbrellas have been status symbols, shade providers, and protectors from rain throughout history, so we’ve rounded up some unique facts about umbrellas for the next time you play Trivial Pursuit!

Status Symbols
Umbrellas were first seen in Egypt more than 3,500 years ago where they were used as sun parasols. In this realm, pale skin was revered as it was considered only lowly labourers were exposed to the sun, darkening their skin. So noble Egyptians were shrouded in protective shade thanks to palm leaves and other materials. The desert didn’t leave much need for waterproofing!

In the eleventh century, China is the first to waterproof umbrellas as protection from the rain. They are made of leather and are very expensive. Only royalty and nobility can afford these luxuries.

As a luxury item, umbrellas go on an inventive hiatus, since the economy can no longer support these kinds of treats until they seem to return to fashion in the sixteenth century. Women continue to use parasols and umbrellas as fashion accessories and status symbols until well into the eighteenth century.