Bed linens, pillows and quilts, duvet covers… All these products have a strong place in our lives with bedding hygiene and warmth, protection of the mattress and decorative contributions. Our beds, where we spend the longest time during the day, require the comfort provided by these components for a quality sleep. As evidenced by numerous studies, Anatolia alone has a long history and rich heritage of quilting tradition. Let`s take a quick look back through time and explore some interesting points about the history of mattress and sleep products. We have compiled some interesting anecdotes and points from the depths of historical folklore to offer you some leisurely reading.
First historical records
Although it was thought for many years that the first bed was invented in the Neolithic period, a team led by Prof. Lyn Wadley from Witwatersrand University rewinded history of the bed by 70,000 years with a discovery made in South Africa in 2011. In the Sibudu rock shelter close to the city of KwaZulu-Natal, the 77,000-year-old bed, large enough for a small family with 2 square meters of sleeping space, made of leaves and grasses laid on reeds and supported by stems and leaves of a kind of laurel tree known to be effective against many pests such as mosquitoes was recorded as the oldest bed in history.
The bedrock civilization of beds: the Egyptians
Around 3400 BC, Egyptian pharaohs moved their beds to a raised surface, while bed linen also entered a period of serious development in Egypt. The sheets, considered as symbols of light, purity and prosperity, were also the material in which Egyptian mummies were wrapped.
Times when ornaments outweighed comfort
The magnificence of the Roman Empire was also reflected in the beds of the rich and wealthy. It is documented that the mattresses were filled with wool, feathers, reeds, and straw, while the beds colored with paints were decorated with metals and jewels such as bronze, silver and gold. Researchers believe that Roman beds were certainly more ornate but far less comfortable than today.
The importance of the quilt in our culture from ancient Turks to Anatolia
The word ‘yör’, which means to cover, to wrap, to cover in Old Turkish evolved into to quilt over time. In Dîvânu Lugâti’t-Türk work of Kaşgarlı Mahmud, the word quilt originates from the word “yoğur kan”. In different sources, a kind of dress worn over the top, the shepherds’ cloaks, and the women’s covers also appear to be called quilts.
While it is known that the first quilt samples were made from felts formed by compressing animal leather and wool, diversification began with the development of the applique method over time. While the cotton cultivation and weaving styles developed with the transition of Uyghurs to settled life, production techniques differed according to the regions in the Seljuk and Ottoman Periods. Quilting, a profession and a deep-rooted craft that has prospered in Anatolia for centuries, is also a part of folk art with its rich colors, motifs, production techniques and composition features.
A quick look at quilts filled with down
The history of quilts filled with down has been known since the Vikings, especially in Scandinavian countries, but the first use in Europe began with class privileges. In the 15th century, mattresses and quilts filled with down were used by the British and Continental European monarchs, while the entire upper class across the European continent switched to quilts filled with down as of 16th century.
Bed as a family legacy
In Renaissance Europe, mattresses were filled with straw and feathers, while they were covered with silk, velvet or satin fabrics. With embroidered facades, decorative hangers, and quilts filled with down, beds became increasingly expensive items, often passed down from generation to generation.
As we approach today’s bed design
In the 18th century, Europeans had mostly cast-iron bedsteads and cotton mattresses, and this use became quite common, especially in urban dwellings.
Manchester is not just a city name!
The reason why bedding is called Manchester in Australia and New Zealand, especially in stores, is that Manchester was the center of the cotton industry that started to rise with the West Indies sourced cotton from late 18th century to the 20th century, thus particularly the cotton products for bed linen and towels were referred to as Manchester products.
A new era of growth and industrial innovations
The mattress spring was invented in the 19th century, taking the sleeping experience to another dimension. By the 20th century, mattresses with inner springs began to become widespread in the USA. In the 1960s, waterbeds became quite popular, especially on the West Coast of the USA. This was followed by Japanese-style mattresses, air mattresses as well as foam rubber mattresses and pillows.