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In general, parasols are used in times and places where pale skin is part of the beauty ideal, which is the reason why they're not usually used by men - openly caring for one's looks is unmanly.

Parasols were probably most popular in late medieval and early modern times, when pale skin was not just considered beautiful, but also a status symbol (perhaps these are one and the same in this instance), because it meant that you didn't have to spend time on the fields working (which was, at that time, by far the most common form of work).

Less well-known is the fact that parasols are in wide use in current-day Japan, again because pale skin is considered beautiful by many people. On a sunny day on Tokyo, about a third of the women (especially those over thirty; tans are quite in among the youngsters) you see walking down the street will be carrying parasols or wearing wide-brimmed hats.

For people who think the fan code is just a little too forward...

Note on previous writeup: Parasols only reached the West in the late 18th century....anyone who conflates "late medieval" and "early modern" is crazy. *Carrying it elevated in left hand.
Desiring acquaintance.

*Carrying it elevated in right hand.
Don't come near me.

*Carrying it closed in left hand.
Meet on the first crossing, but don't openly follow.

*Carrying it closed in right hand by the side.
Follow me, NOW!

*Carrying it over the right shoulder.
You can speak to me.

*Carrying it over the left shoulder.
This isn't the time to talk, sorry.

*Closing it up, quickly.
I wish to speak to you.

*Dropping it.
I want you...will you pick it up?

*End of tips to lips.
Do you love me?

*Folding it up, slowly and very carefully.
Get out of here, quickly.

*Letting it rest on the right cheek.

*Letting it rest on the left cheek.

*Striking it on the hand.
I am very displeased.

*Swinging it to and fro by the handle on the left side.
I'm not taken yet.

*Swinging it to and fro by the handle on the left side.
We're an item. Don't bother.

*Tapping the chin gently.
I am in love with another

*Twisting it in the left hand.
I love another

*Twisting it in the right hand.
You're the one.

*Twirling it around.
Be careful; we are watched

*Using it as a fan.
Introduce me to your company (read 21st century: posse)

*Biting the tips.
Go! Now! And don't come back!

*With handle to lips.
Kiss me....

Par"a*sol` (?), n. [F., fr. Sp. or Pg. parasol, or It. parasole; It. parare to ward off, Sp. & Pg. parar (L. parare to prepare) + It. sole sun, Sp. & Pg. sol (L. sol). See Parry, Solar.]

A kind of small umbrella used by women as a protection from the sun.


© Webster 1913.

Par"a*sol`, v. t.

To shade as with a parasol.



© Webster 1913.

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