Hammocks are a favored possession all throughout the world, especially in tropical countries, due to their climate.
In Latin America, and most other parts of the world, hammocks are used primarily for sleeping.In the United States, Canada, and Europe they are symbols of summertime, leisure, relaxation, and easy living.
We’re going to dive into the history of hammocks and take a look back into the past and discover a unique piece of ancient history.
If you had ever desired to know the origin of hammock, its inventor and for how long they have existed?
Prepare yourself for the fantastic answers that will follow.
It is widely accepted by cultural anthropologists that hammocks were developed by the indigenous Maya Civilization over 1000 years ago!
The Maya civilization is renowned for being innovators and ahead of their time with inventions such as the Maya calendar.
You might be surprised to know the Mayas developed hammocks originally for sleeping.
The elevated hanging position of the hammock kept the sleeper off the ground, which protected them from snakes and other crawling ground dwellers and insects.
It also put them above water, dirt and other unsanitary conditions that are attributed to the spread of disease.
Sleeping in an elevated area allowed the sleeper to remain fresh and comfortable all night in the humid areas of Central America
The word “hammock”, as we know it today, comes from the Spanish word “hamaca”, derived from the Haitian Arawakan word of the Taíno culture meaning “fish net”.
The first hammocks sound like they weren’t easy to make, or comfortable for that matter. The very first hammocks were originally made out of bark from the “hamack” tree, which doesn’t sound too comfy does it?
Later, the natives moved to “sisal” fibers material because it was much more abundant and the material could be softened to make a more comfortable hammock.
Hammocks have been around for centuries. First noted by the Spanish colonists as they were conquering the America’s, they were used by Native Americans, in particular the West Indies, known today as the Caribbean.
During the conquest of America, and afterward, Spaniards and the rest of the Europeans brought cotton, canvas, and other articles to the Newly conquered World that were later eventually used amongst traditional native hammock weavers along with the classic materials.
A fun fact regarding the history of hammocks is that it was none other than Christopher Columbus that first introduced hammocks to Europe.
In the 16th century, Europeans adopted hammocks as their primary source of on deck sleeping on ships. Hammocks were ideal to use in order to maximize the ship’s limited space.
Prior to the adoption of the naval canvas hammocks, many sailors were injured or even killed by falling off their bunks in the heavy seas during the night.
The naval sling hammock would move in accord with the motion of the ship, and would also provide a more comfortable sleep than sleeping on a bunk while at sea, while helping the sleeper stay well balanced.
The sling hammock went through modifications during the years but sailors became so accustomed to sleeping on a hammock that many of them took their hammocks with them when they were on leave.
After its naval success during the 20th Century, the US army used hammocks in World War I, and World War II. Dating back to the Civil War, up until the Vietnam War, the US army distributed hammocks for sleeping in tight spaces and on the go.
Did you know hammocks have been used in outer space? Hammocks have been used on spacecraft in order to maximize available space.
For the Apollo program, hammocks were used for the commander and lunar module pilot for them to sleep in.
Nowadays, hammocks have seen many improvements. Hammocks today come in an array of designs, materials, colors, comfort and styles.
There are all types of different hammock styles, and each style brings its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Some popular hammock styles include the spreader bar hammocks, portable, rope, Mayan, Brazilian, naval, Nicaraguan, and Venezuelan hammocks.
There are many uses for hammocks nowadays also. There are lightweight, portable hammocks ideal for use in hiking and camping trips, and some even have netting to protect from insects.
Naval hammocks are made of canvas or strong cotton which is still used by sailors in order to stand the rigors of use on ships.
The spreader bar hammock has a wooden or metal bar across both ends of the hammock to spread its width, and is great for casual use in the backyard or indoors.
A variation of this style is the single spreader bar which uses a spreader bar on only one end, and makes for a more stable and more comfortable hammock for sleeping.
Hammocks are also made in different sizes for a single person (250 – 350 lbs.) or for two or three people (400 – 600 lbs.).
In summary, the hammock has a rich, rocking history and touts as being one of the oldest pieces of furniture in existence. The hammock today is more popular than ever, and is still used for sleeping in most parts of the world.
Hammocks have stuck around for a long time and in spite of this modern day and age full of technology the hammock is still going strong.
So, just remember the next time you lay down in your hammock that people have been rocking in hammocks for 1000 years.