Thursday, April 19, 2018

Global Umbrella Etiquette of Old

“It is a sign of low-breeding to fidget with the hat, cane or parasol during a call. They are introduced merely as signs that the caller is in walking dress, and are not intended, the hat to be whirled round the top of the cane, the cane to be employed in tracing out the pattern of the carpet, or the parasol to be tapped on the teeth, or worse still, sucked.”


Umbrella Etiquette Unique to China, Japan, Turkey, India and the U.S.

In China, ladies were attended by servants who held umbrellas over their heads. The Chinese and Japanese introduced both the umbrella and parasol into their decorative work and athletic sports. And although it may have been raining, no Japanese person was allowed to put up an umbrella while her Majesty was passing by.

In India, the umbrella was the emblem of royalty, the sign of a Rajah. So natives generally folded their umbrellas before a Rajah, and not before anybody else, however great, it was not a part of the dress, but a protection from the rain or sun, a necessary appendage, just like the watch and chain. A coolie was not bound to fold his umbrella when a brigadier general rode past. But a menial generally closed down the umbrella upon seeing his master, whom he considered his “King.” But no Indian, however humble, ought to have folded up the umbrella, even before a magistrate, because he was neither the master of the humble passer-by, nor his superior officer, nor was he bound to salaam him. But if he did, no harm. In a word, natives generally folded the umbrella before a master or a superior officer, and not any other citizen, however great and this was no insult.

In western Turkey, it was necessary to close an umbrella on meeting people of high rank, and a European traveler who was passing one of the Palaces of the Sultan was nearly run through by the guard before he comprehended that he must put down the open umbrella he carried. Every one passing the actual residence of the Sultan lowered his umbrella as a salutation to “the brother of the sun and the moon.” 

And according to Frost’s By-Laws of 1869, an American lady, “When calling, keeps her parasol in her hand, and is not required to remove her glove. It is a sign of low-breeding to fidget with the hat, cane or parasol during a call. They are introduced merely as signs that the caller is in walking dress, and are not intended, the hat to be whirled round the top of the cane, the cane to be employed in tracing out the pattern of the carpet, or the parasol to be tapped on the teeth, or worse still, sucked. No lady will be guilty of the vulgarity of sucking the head of her parasol in the street. To eat anything, even confectionery, in the street, is a sign of low breeding.”


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia