Sofa cushions have come a long way since thousands of years ago, and finally turned into the soft furnishing items we love. Indeed, up to the 19th century they were something only the wealthy could afford. And, most of all, the most ancient ones were made of… slightly different materials.
Cushions in antiquity: history and value
The forefathers of our cushions were not exactly comfortable:
- in Mesopotamia they were simply carved stones, upon which people used to lay their heads;
- the poor mummies of Egyptian pharaohs must rest for eternity on pillows wrapped in fabrics, but made of stone and wood;
- things were even worse for Ancient China, where cushions were made of painted – sometimes in pure gold – ceramic and embellished with pearls and stones.
The materials were different, but these cushions shared a common feature: their shapes, decorations and materials were all meant to reveal their owner’s social status. Their value was so high that they’ve carried gifts and crowns to royals for centuries – and this is why wedding rings are still brought to the bride and groom on a cushion.
We have to thank Ancient Greeks and Romans if our cushions now are soft and have various shapes and uses: indeed, these were the first populations who both stuffed them with straw and feathers and employed big ones to lay down and small ones while sitting.
Cushions remained the same even during the Middle Ages, but they were still an accessory only for the rich, which was often part of a bride’s trousseau. But the Industrial Revolution changed everything.
The watershed of modern age
The Industrial Revolution radically changed many industries, including the textile one. New inventions, especially the Jacquard loom, made the production of any fabric significantly faster and widened the range of available patterns, thus resulting in a major decrease in textile-products price.
So even the middle class could start buying these luxury goods, at the beginning of the 1800s. Besides, they could even pick cushions showing extremely complex and colourful patterns.