Monday, April 2, 2012

SPECIAL SERIES: Ancient Beds and Bedrooms (part 2)

We had the view into the opulent and over-decorated Bedrooms of the Royals and their beds which might not have been as comfortable as they looked like first hand - now we have a peek into the bedrooms and beds of people who lived many centuries ago. Some of them must have been quite comfortable with the appopriate bedding but then, thinking of the hygiene in these times, makes me shiver...

For example the Romans:
"Wealthy citizens could decorate their bedrooms ('cubiculae' from which we get the word cubicle, which was the usual size of a Roman bedroom) elaborately as in the image above, but normally the bedroom was small and decorated with painted walls and simple furniture." (read more)
 Roman Bedroom
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"Cubicula were small rooms used for a number of different purposes; on the upper story and in the interior of the house they often functioned as bedrooms, while the small rooms off the atrium may have been used for private meetings, libraries, etc. While the bedroom above, from the Villa at Boscoreale, has wonderfully detailed wall paintings designed to make the room appear more open and spacious, many cubicula were decorated more simply."(read more)

The Etruscan:


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Above is an Etruscan bed-frame. Roman beds were pretty much the same and would have had a mattress on top of it, stuffed with feathers or straw, and wool blankets. This frame is made of bronze - therefore it has been preserved. Most Etruscan and Roman beds would have been made of wood though and strung with wool or linen string which would not have survived the past centuries. (after historyforkids)

The following is a very elegant version of a Roman couch i.e. lectus, the most important item of Roman style furniture, used for sleeping, sitting, relaxing or eating.


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Here is another interesting version of a Roman bed that has been recovered in Pompeii:


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Saxon and Norman:

The history of the four poster bed is related to the Saxon and Norman.
"For centuries, the bed has been a sign of wealth, the richer the nobleman, the better the bed, which is probably why many people still aspire to owning a four poster bed, the bed of kings, and the king of beds."(read more)


Most Saxon and Viking families lived in single-roomed, smoky homes which they shared with their animals. The benches they sat on by day served as their beds at night.Larger Saxon houses had sleeping platforms raised at one end, perhaps reserved for women or important guests. When Saxon people "made a bed", they did exactly that. They took a sack or animal skin and filled it with leaves, straw or other material. Pea pods were sometimes used, which must have been rather lumpy. We can get an idea of how the Saons made their beds from the words they used for bed and mattress: Baence(bench) and streow (straw). A bed that was more luxurious than just straw on a bench was called a "cot" or "crib". (after Beds through the Ages)


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Chinese Beds
Here is a museum conservation of an ancient Chinese bedroom from Guangzhou:


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"In ancient time, bed is a piece of furniture for people to sit and lie on, as was different from the modern bed, which is used solely for sleeping. In Paraphrasing Texts and Words, "Bed refers to a seat for one to settle down." Settling down just means making one's body feel secure and comfortable, thus bed can refer to anything that plays a supporting and steadying function." (read more)
The following are some examples of beds from the Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties:





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This kind of canopy beds is actually re-made today as replicas of the original antique beds. Certainly an eyecatcher for every bedroom.

Egyptian Bed

Similarities to the typical Roman bed are easily to be seen:


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"After the jewelry, some of the most exquisite objects remaining from the ancient Egyptian world is the furniture the people crafted and used. Chairs, beds, chests and stools were made not only for function but for beauty, as well, a beauty that reflected the philosophy of the ancient Egyptian mind of combining the best in human artistry while paying homage to the natural world."
"Bed styles in ancient Egypt remained very much the same for over 2000 years. They are among the most intriguing of furniture items because of their structure. Many were slanted down at an incline from the headboard. A footboard ensured that the sleeper would not slip off in the middle of the night. Furniture makers also constructed side rails on many beds. Writes Sibal, "….almost all beds featured legs in the form of animal legs, ranging from heavy bull's legs to gazelle-like forms with hooves, and the feline type with paw and claw, frequently identified as lion's legs." The mattress was usually made of wooden slats, plaited string, or reeds, which then held woolen cushions or some other soft material. Sheets were made of linen." (How the Ancient Egyptians...)

Indian Beds and Bedrooms

We know that India has a long tradition of arts and crafts and can look back on many centuries of some of the most sophisticated cultures on this planet.

The following images certainly do not represent an ancient Indian environment but are rather replicas - nevertheless the designs have not changed much in the past centuries. Therefore I have added images from a wonderful and extremely inspirational blog "An Indian Summer" from Bhavna, an Indian consultant from Gurgaon in India. The blog is full of ideas of Indian inspired rooms and bedrooms - all of them very beautiful and inspirational, from traditional to modern touches. I recommend that you browse through the images yourself. I have added only very few here.
It is extremely difficult to find authentic images of ancient design on the internet - so please enjoy your trip through more modern versions...


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(This special series will be continued...)
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