Parasol umbrellas are primarily designed not for providing shelter from the rain like conventional umbrellas but for providing shelter from the sun. They can range from simple and functional to very elaborate, depending on the maker and the occasion of intended use.
Many different cultures have used the parasol umbrella for shade. There is evidence of parasols shading pharaohs of ancient Egypt from the sun while their slaves toiled. There have been examples of them found deeper south into Africa and over much of the continent of Asia as well.
The Chinese are revered for having the most elaborate and beautiful parasol. They are highly coveted even in modern times. The Romans and Greeks both used parasols for their personal use but did not glorify them as much as what is seen in Eastern cultures. The Victorian era in Europe saw a surge of parasol use as young women of noble blood and affluent wealth used them as fashion accessories at afternoon teas and in the theater halls.
Modern use is limited primarily to occasions in which the parasol is utilized mainly as an ornament of sorts. Many young women favor parasols on their wedding day to add a historic touch to their wedding pictures.