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Blissful Beds

Shira Yehudit Djlilmand

Most of us don’t give much thought to our beds — it’s just the place where we get tucked in every night. But the Mishnah itself (Succah 1:3) spends time analyzing different kinds of beds —to determine whether it was problematic to have that kind of bed in a succah. The different kinds of beds that were found in every time and place are quite amazing: from nothing more than a deep pile of straw to beds that float off the ground. Read on ...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Short History of Beds

Who invented the first bed? No one really knows for sure, but the earliest “bed-like” object that historians have discovered is a wooden board raised off the ground, which the Ancient Egyptians used thousands of years ago. King Tutankhamen even had a bed made of ebony and gold, covered with linen sheets! But it was only rich and powerful Pharaohs who slept like that — in Europe, even the rich and powerful were still sleeping on piles of straw.

During the time of the Roman Empire too, many rich people had luxurious beds. By now, the beds were usually made of iron rather than wood, and they were often decorated with gold, silver, or bronze. Mattresses were used, stuffed with reeds, hay, or feathers. By the sixteenth century, mattresses were stuffed with feathers or straw, and then covered with heavy fabrics — expensive velvets if you were rich, plain sackcloth if not.

In the seventeenth century, beds were commonly made of an iron frame with a lattice of ropes. The tighter these ropes were, the firmer the mattress — and so, the better the sleep. In fact, some say that’s why we say “sleep tight!”


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