Cushions and pillows

A cushion is a soft bag of some ornamental material, stuffed with wool, hair, feathers, etc. A cushion is also referred to as a bolster, hassock, headrest and a sham.

The cushion is a very ancient article of furniture; the inventories of the contents of palaces and great houses in the early Middle Ages constantly made mention of them. Cushions were then often of great size, covered with leather, and firm enough to serve as a seat. In France, the right to kneel upon a cushion in church behind the king was jealously guarded and strictly regulated, as it is learnt again from Saint-Simon. This type of cushion was called a carreau, or square.

The word cushion comes from Middle English cusshin, from Anglo-French cussin, quissin, from Vulgar Latin coxinus, and from Latin coxa. The word pillow comes from Middle English pilwe, from Old English pyle and from Latin pulvinus. The first known use of the word pillow was before 12th century.

The first people to use pillows were those who lived in early civilizations of Mesopotamia around 7,000 BC. During this time, only the wealthy and more fortunate people of the world were the ones who used pillows. The number of pillows symbolized status so the more pillows one owned the more affluence he or she held.

Pillow use has been associated with the mummies and tombs of ancient Egypt dating back to 2055-1985 B.C. Ancient Egyptian pillows were wooden or stone headrests. These pillows were mostly used by placing them under the heads of the deceased because the head of a human was considered to be the essence of life and sacred. The ancient Egyptians used these wooden or stone pillows in order to provide support to a corpse’s head, uphold body vigor, keep blood circulating, and keep demons away.

The Romans and Greeks of ancient Europe mastered the creation of the softer pillow. These pillows were stuffed with reeds, feathers, and straw in order to make them softer and more comfortable. Only upper-class people typically owned these softer pillows, however all classes of people were allowed to use some type of pillow while sleeping in order to give them support. People in ancient Europe started to use pillows when going to church in order to kneel on while praying and to place holy books on. This is a tradition that still lives on today. Additionally, the Romans and Greeks used their pillows by placing them under the head of those deceased just like the ancient Egyptians did.

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