Did you know? Some facinating facts about the simple Pillow !!
The dictionary defines the pillow as :-
1. a cloth case stuffed with feathers, foam rubber, etc, used to support the head, esp during sleep
2. Also called: cushion a padded cushion or board on which pillow lace is made
3. anything like a pillow in shape or function
In Old English the pillow was originally pronounced 'pylwe' and in Latin 'pulvÄ«nus'
The shape of pillows and their use for comfort or as decorative items has varied little over time.
History reports that orginally they were used by the wealthiest men in Asia and Greece, they rested their heads and feet on richly embroidered pillows and bolster cushions. Some forms of pillows have also been found in Eygptian tombs, they regarded the head as the seat of life and spent alot of money on highly decorated luxury pillows for the dead. Its also thought earliest ones were made of stone or wood, not the softer materials of today. Traditional Chinese Pillows were often made from hard materials and highly carved. Stone, wood, metal, jade and porcelain would be used instead of softer fabrics as they believed that soft pillows robbed the body of vitality. Some were even filled with herbal remedies to cure disease and inspire sweet dreams, much like the lavender scent pillows of today used to calm the mind and help you drift off.
The expensive luxury of silks and the sophisticated dyes and sewing techniques led to pillows being used as an art form, with highly decorative pillows being prized items, first in China and Persia and later in Medieval Europe.
During the Tudor Times in England is when the pillow became more widely used. Although it was believed that only women giving birth and weak men would use them, how very British!! Later during the Industrial Revolution the textile industry saw the mass production of luxury textiles and pillows leading to the use of them as we do today, as decorative items and comfortable props or rests for the head during sleep, although it is thought the traditional filling of the time was straw, not particularly as comfotable and rarely used in this day and age.
More commonly today we tend to use synthetic fills, feathers or down and visco elastic foam or latex pillows. In Asia the pillows are usually smaller and common fillings are buckwheat or small plastic imitation pieces and in India they tend to use more cotton based materials.
Pillows from around the world
From Japan the Dakimakura is a hugging pillow.
Originating from Indonesia the Guling is a long hugging pillow, the Phillippino version is called the Abrazador.
A husband pillow (also known as a boyfriend pillow) is a large, high-backed pillow with two "arms". It is used to prop the user upright while in bed or on the floor, as for reading or watching television.
Shitou zhentou (rock pillow) originated from ancient China. Fashioned from jade, it was believed to translate the energy from the stone to the human brain. Derived from the Ming dynasty, this piece of material was trusted to cure headaches or depressions, or simply to better the intelligence of those who use it. It was more common within Royal circles as it was so rare and expensive to make.