The pillow has a strong historical presence wherever people have been civilized enough to desire more comfort than that of the floor or a piece of furniture. The first people to use pillows were those who lived in early civilizations of Mesopotamia around 7,000 BC. During this time, only the wealthy and more fortunate people of the world were the ones who used pillows. The number of pillows symbolized status so the more pillows one owned the more affluence he or she held. Pillows have always been produced around the world in order to help solve the old, reoccurring problem of neck, back, and shoulder pain while sleeping. The pillow was also used in order to keep bugs and insects out of people's hair, mouth, nose, and ears while sleeping.
In ancient egyptEdit
Pillow use has been associated with the mummies and tombs of ancient Egypt dating back to 2055-1985 B.C. Ancient Egyptian pillows were wooden or stone headrests. These pillows were mostly used by placing them under the heads of the deceased because the head of a human was considered to be the essence of life and sacred. The ancient Egyptians used these wooden or stone pillows in order to provide support to a corpse’s head, uphold body vigor, keep blood circulating, and keep demons away.
In ancient europeEdit
The Romans and Greeks of ancient Europe mastered the creation of the softer pillow. These pillows were stuffed with reeds, feathers, and straw in order to make them softer and more comfortable. Only upper-class people typically owned these softer pillows, however all classes of people were allowed to use some type of pillow while sleeping in order to give them support. People in ancient Europe started to use pillows when going to church in order to kneel on while praying and to place holy books on. This is a tradition that still lives on today. Additionally, the Romans and Greeks used their pillows by placing them under the head of those deceased just like the ancient Egyptians did. European pillows continue to have a lot of popularity still to this day because of their beauty and quality.
In ancient chinaEdit
Chinese dynasties used pillows that were made from a wide range of materials including bamboo, jade, porcelain, wood, and bronze. Porcelain pillows became the most popular. The use of the porcelain pillow first appeared in the Sui Dynasty between 581 and 618 while mass production of the porcelain pillow appeared in the Tang Dynasty between 618 and 907. The Chinese decorated their pillows by making them different shapes and by painting pictures of animals, humans, and plants on them. Ancient Chinese porcelain pillows reached their peak in terms of production and use during the Song, Jin, and Yuan dynasties between the 10th and 14th century, but slowly phased out during the Ming and Qing dynasties between 1368 and 1911 with the emergence of better pillow making materials.
Construction and partsEditInternally, a pillow comprises a filler, often made from foam, synthetic plastic fibers, feathers, or down and viscoelastic foam and latex. Traditionally straw was a filler, but this is uncomfortable and rarely used today. Feathers and down are the most expensive and usually the most comfortable; they offer the advantage of softness and their ability to conform to shapes desired by the user, more so than foam or fiber pillows. One of the disadvantages of a down-filled pillow is that a significant number of people are allergic to them. There are currently hypoallergenic varieties of down pillows to allow people sensitive to down to enjoy the comfort of feather or down pillows. In Asia, buckwheat is a common filler, as are plastic imitations. Such pillows tend to be smaller than a standard pillow. In India, cotton is also a common filler and is considered to be healthier than synthetic fills.
The fill is surrounded with a cover or shell made of cloth or silk, known as the pillow case or pillow slip. Some pillows have a fancier cover called a sham which is closed on all sides and usually has a slit in the back through which the pillow is placed. Rectangular standard bed pillow cases usually do not have zippers, but instead have one side open all the time, however, a zippered pillow protector is often placed around standard pillows with the case in turn covering the protector. It is recommended that all types of pillow covers be laundered periodically since they are the part that is in contact with a person's body. But even with regular washing, pillows tend to accumulate dust and microbes among the fill and it is recommended. that they be replaced every few years, especially for those with allergies.