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The word "parasol" (Spanish or French) is a combination of para, meaning to stop or to shield, and sol, meaning sun."Parapluie" (French) similarly consists of para combined with pluie, which means rain (which in turn derives from pluvia, the Latin word for rain).The word "umbrella" typically refers to a device used for protection from rain.The word parasol usually refers to an item designed to protect from the sun.However, the tradition existing in China is that it originated in standards and banners waving in the air, hence the use of the umbrella was often linked to high-ranking (though not necessarily royalty) in China.On at least one occasion, twenty-four umbrellas were carried before the Emperor when he went out hunting.An umbrella or parasol is a folding canopy supported by wooden or metal ribs, which is usually mounted on a wooden, metal, or plastic pole.It is designed to protect a person against rain or sunlight.

A late Song Dynasty Chinese divination book that was printed in about 1270 AD features a picture of a collapsible umbrella that is exactly like the modern umbrella of today's China.An even older source on the umbrella is perhaps the ancient book of Chinese ceremonies, called Zhou Li (The Rites of Zhou), dating 2,400 years ago, which directs that the dais should be placed upon the imperial cars.The figure of this dais contained in Zhou-Li, and the description of it given in the explanatory commentary of Lin-hi-ye, both identify it with an umbrella.Umbrellas and parasols are primarily hand-held portable devices sized for personal use.The largest hand-portable umbrellas are golf umbrellas.

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