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Tattoo designs - U >> Umbrellas

Umbrella tattoo designsUmbrella Tattoo Design Meanings - The umbrella is an interesting tattoo design. At its most basic level, an umbrella is a symbol, or symbolic, of 'a temporary shelter', or 'a small amount of protection'. Umbrella itself, literally means, 'a little shade'.

Financial institutions - think Travelers Insurance - have often deployed the umbrella as sign of financial protection. Insurance salesmen used to use the analogy of buying and having insurance as 'protection against a rainy day'. You may not need the umbrella when you step out the door, but you are certainly glad you have one when it begins to rain! An umbrella then, is a symbol of planning for the unexpected, the 'rainy day'.

Chattra Chattra
A parasol - protection against evil; high rank.

If you're a Buddhist, the protective force, or shelter, is the dharma, the Buddha's teaching, the faith. Depictions of the Buddha often show him protected from above by an elaborate parasol. The dome symbolizes wisdom, and the hanging skirt, compassion. The Noble Eightfold Path found representation in octagonal parasols.

In Tibet, religious leaders were honoured with a silk parasol, while secular rulers were attended with embroidered umbrellas of peacock feathers. The Dalai Lama is entitled to both. The ultimate symbol of your status as an individual of high rank and status is to be protected by an umbrella that is held over you by someone else.


In dream analysis, the umbrella is protection from the 'unconscious', symbolizing our unwillingness to look at our negative emotions, and may indicate our need to take a closer look at our worries and fears. Raindrops falling on the umbrella could represent sadness and tears that we don't want to acknowledge.

To Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, the umbrella was a symbol of the male genital. A phallus, is a phallus, is a phallus. The opened umbrella may alternatively represent an erect penis, or, turned upside down, represent the feminine, as in a representation of the female genitalia.

In Great Britain, the financial district in the heart of London is known simply as, 'the City'. When London was the financial center of the world, the two symbols of a a 'man of the city', or a banker, stock broker or 'money man', were the the bowler hat and the black, cane-handled umbrella. These men were the alpha males of the British Empire, an institution upon which, 'the sun never set', and the bowler hat and the black umbrella were the symbols of the men who ruled the world.

The ability to protect oneself against inclement weather was once a status symbol, particularly for ladies of a certain social standing in polite society. Indeed, the umbrella, often made of silk and beautifully embroidered was used to ward off both the sun, and the rain. For many centuries, Ladies of the upper classes prided themselves on their porcelain and pale complexions, an attribute which they heightened and exaggerated by the use of face powder, made from talcum powder and even rice and wheat flour. To be pale meant that one did not have to be exposed to the sun while working in the fields, as were the common folk. A pale complexion and soft hands unsullied by labour were the marks of the nobility among women of the aristocracy.


It was not until the advent of the industrial revolution when field hands and peasants were forced to work inside factories and became pale from their lack of exposure to sunlight, that Coco Chanel and the leisure classes flaunted 'tanned' skins as a display of their ability to 'play' outside. To be tanned in the twentieth century meant that one did not have to work indoors for a living and therefore skin darkened by exposure to the sun became a new status symbol. To be tanned meant an individual was a member of the new 'leisure class', or the modern definition of the new nobility.

As with the use of fans, and handkerchiefs, umbrellas have long been used by ladies to draw the attention of the male sex. A flirtatious twirl of a silk umbrella, may well have promised a flirtatious twirl! An elaborately colourful and decorated umbrella can symbolize the sexual lure. Many of the wood-block prints of the Japanese feature beautiful Geishas wielding fans or umbrellas for this very purpose. An enchanting woman spinning a gaily decorated umbrella is as hypnotizing to a man as any watch swinging on its fob chain.


To the Oriental mind in many parts of Asia, the sunshade protected against a scorching and disfiguring sun, a concept that took on religious connotations as "protection against the heat of defilements." The shade symbolized protection from the heat of suffering, desire, and spiritually harmful forces.

In India, the umbrella, or parasol (literally, 'against the sun') is a traditional symbol of royalty as well as protection. Umbrellas are common in processional rites. Held aloft above a valued personage or the image of a deity - like a mobile temple - indicates a reverence for the VIP.

Umbrella Inspiration Gallery - Click here to get inspired!In modern popular literature, the umbrella often becomes a vehicle to transport an individual, and in this respect a tattoo design of an umbrella is similar to tattoo symbols like wings. Think of Mary Poppins, carried aloft on her 'magic' umbrella, and spirited away to a new adventure. In stories, umbrellas are often used as surrogates for parachutes, in which an individual takes a 'leap of faith', either from great heights or into the unknown, and the umbrella acts to help gently guide the protagonist to the next step on their journey of discovery.

Get inspired by some really great images and photos in our Umbrella Inspiration Gallery

See also: Buddha Symbols, Buddhist Tattoos, Parasol

Get your umbrella tattoo design ideas here!

Great Umbrella Tattoo design ideas at Tattoo Johnny

Tattoo designs - U >> Umbrellas

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