In American phraseology, the words ‘cushion‘ and ‘pillow’ are practically synonymous, but in the remainder of the English speaking world, a pillow is used on a bed for supporting the head along with a cushion is used on elsewhere for supporting other parts of the body. A pillow is generally bigger than the usual cushion these days.
The cushion and pillow were most likely first utilized by well-off Asian men to lounge on. They would probably be referred to as throw cushions nowadays. However, we are going back so far in history that dyes and fabrics were very expensive, so cushions and pillows were just for the wealthy and the patterns were so intricate they became pieces of art in themselves.
Needlework became a skilled profession as did weaving. Cushions were substantial sacks or cases filled with feathers, hair, wool, straw or something like that equivalent. Nowadays they’re more prone to be filled with man-made fibres such as polyester. Down is the most expensive filling particularly down in the eider duck.
Due to international trade, the concept of the cushion started moving westward coupled with arrived in Egypt when of the Pharaohs. Cushions have been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs. Through the Dark ages, cushions were to be observed in all of the royal palaces of Europe. Cushions were still regarded as representing wealth.
The cushions of the royal palaces were big enough to sit down in, similar to modern beanie bags, and even started replacing traditional chairs. In those times, cushions were very substantial sacks manufactured of leather, many of which had needlework designs in it.
Cushions were also used in churches for the wealthy to kneel on when saying their prayers. These special but small cushions maintained as carreaux because they were square (in the French).
Nowadays cushions are everyday items because they tend to be cheaper. Most cushions in the western world are 17 inches by 17 inches and the reason for this is the traditional size a roll or bolt of fabric. A roll of material is traditionally 54 inches wide, so it might be cut into three bits of 18 inches, permitting seams, this gives the maker to make a 17 inch cushion.
Japanese cushions were much larger and still are, however they have a different role. In the West they are utilised for support, whereas within the East they are used for looking at on the floor. In Japanese they are called ‘zabuton’ and measure 20-30 inches square by a few of inches thick, that is just one quarter of the thickness of american cushions.
Zen meditators will frequently sit on another special cushion called a zafu or meditation cushion, that is placed on top of the zabuton. A zafu could be round or square but is small, frequently only 8-10 inches in diameter and 4-8 inches thick.
Zabuton are utilized in most aspects of Japanese life particularly those aspects that have religious overtones or traditions such as sumo. Spectators of the sport will sit on zabuton whilst watching the bouts. If there is a questionable move or a dispute, spectators frequently throw their zabuton into the ring in revulsion.