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"On the outside its full of leaves, but on the inside its bare and empty" - SETH

Beds as a Status Symbol

  • Date Submitted: 09/06/2011 02:13 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 56.6 
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Beds are a status symbol: the Tudor royals and noblemen showed off their wealth through their huge four-poster beds and elaborate drapes and hangings, and many people today covet a spacious and beautifully designed bed in their home.

The difference in the quality and comfort of beds has always separated rich from poor and continues to do so. While some of us enjoy the luxury of fine Egyptian cotton sheets, others around the world still prepare for the night by rolling out a simple sleeping mat.

Beds in the ancient world

The earliest beds were little more than piles of straw or other natural materials to ease the discomfort of lying on a bare, cold floor. An important change occurred when beds were first raised off the ground to protect the sleeper from draughts, dirt, and pests.

More than 3,600 years ago, the Persians filled goatskins with water to create the first water beds. In ancient Egypt, beds were made from wood and reed matting, and the bed functioned as a place to eat and entertain socially as well as to sleep.

In Homer's Odyssey, the bed of Odysseus is described as being made of woven rope, while the ancient Romans had a variety of beds for different purposes. These included the lectus cubicularis, or chamber bed for sleeping, the lectus discubitorius, or table bed, on which up to three people would lie to eat, and the lectus funebris, on which the dead were carried to the pyre. In most ancient societies, however, only the rich would have enjoyed the luxury of sleeping in a bed.

Beds in the Middle Ages

In Saxon England, a bed typically consisted of a mattress on wooden boards, covered with quilts and fur rugs. In the later Saxon period, some beds were raised wooden platforms. Again, it was only the rich who slept in beds; everyone else spent the night on the floor huddled around the fire in the great hall.

The 13th century saw the arrival of the canopy or tester, which was suspended by cords from beams above the bed. Curtains were...


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