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  1. #1
    jellyfish's Avatar
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    hammock origins, not lost to time

    Someone in a post on BlackBishop's thread last night made a comment that the origin of hammocks has been lost to time. My response to him was deleted, so I thought I would start a new thread on that topic.

    Alexandra Aikenhenvald, Languages of The Amazon (2012, Oxford University Press, p. 64) provides this definition:

    • HAMMOCK (first attested in English in 1555) 'a hanging bed, consisting of a large piece of canvas, netting, etc. suspended by cords at both ends; used especially by sailors on board ship, also in hot climates or seasons on land', from Spanish hamaca (first attested in 1519), from Taino of Santo Domingo. This form reflects the Proto-Arawak root -maka 'stretch of cloth; clothing; hammock' and a dummy prefix (h)a- (this makes it unlikely that the form was borrowed from a Carib language).



    Irving Rouse, The Tainos: Rise and Decline of the People Who Greeted Columbus (Yale University Press, 1992) describes hammocks twice:
    • "Although some chief's slept on wooden platforms, most people used hammocks (hamaca) made of cordage (fig. 4, bottom) (page 9).
    • taino-hammock1.jpg
    • "The Spaniards admired the quality and artistry of the Tainos' canoes (canoa) and their weaving of cotton into hammocks (hamaca). They added both these items to their own cultural inventory, then transmitted them to other parts of the world." (p. 170)



    William Curtis Farabee, The Central Arawaks (University of Pennsylvania, The University Museum Anthropological Publications Vol IX, 1918) is really fascinating. They are linguistically related to the Tainos. I will summarize:

    • Waiwai shaman can cure people by blowing on their hammocks.
    • They make their hammocks from tree cotton, that they spin by hand. Women prepare the fibers for the hammock and weave the hammock, usually in teams of two; men prepare the fibers for the suspension.
    • When women give birth, they do so from their hammock. the hammock is cut lengthwise in the middle, she sits astride, and the midwife receives the child underneath.
    • Children are kept in a hammock until they are able to sit up, and it is carried by the mother like a bandoleer.
    • When a man dies, he is buried in the floor of his house. A grave is dug beneath his hammock and he is lowered into the grave by loosening the suspension.
    • When a young man visits a young woman in her hammock, that is the consummation of marriage.
    • People live in large communal houses with hammock posts separating family areas.
    • Couvade: when a child is born the father must rest in a hammock for a month, do no manual labor, and not eat any solid food during this time.


    Irving Rouse, The Art of the Taino from the Dominican Republic (University of Florida Smathers Library, 1985) also had this neat image:

    GT.PT1.SL3.SO1.png

    If you have any other neat info about the originators of hammocks, post it here.
    Last edited by jellyfish; 02-11-2017 at 21:16.
    I sew things on youtube.
    Hammock origins, not lost to time.


    "The woods are full of eager interpreters" - Clifford Geertz

  2. #2

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    Thanks for reviving this post -- fascinating stuff!

  3. #3
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    Thanks Jellyfish. Good info you got there. It's a shame your post got deleted. I have never seen a forum with such strict topic policing in the general discussion section.

  4. #4
    Senior Member SoaknWet's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed reading your post!

  5. #5
    Senior Member nj4x4fever's Avatar
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    I'm amazed of all of the interesting ways a hammock is used in different cultures. Thanks for sharing this info. First time I ever saw a hammock used was on Gillian's Isle.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  6. #6
    jellyfish's Avatar
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    hammock origins, not lost to time

    Frederick Converse Beach, George Edwin Rines, The Americana: A Universal Reference Library, Comprising the Arts and Sciences, Literature, History, Biography, Geography, Commerce, Etc., of the World, Volume 11 (Scientific American, 1912) claims that the Arawak cotton hammock was the first Native American invention adopted by Europeans.

    It is hard for me to believe that people were in hammocks before smoking tobacco in pipes, paddling canoes or cooking bbq, but maybe.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Last edited by jellyfish; 02-12-2017 at 10:07.
    I sew things on youtube.
    Hammock origins, not lost to time.


    "The woods are full of eager interpreters" - Clifford Geertz

  7. #7
    Tacblades's Avatar
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    Love hammocks history stuff, suspensions, stands, covers, travel hammocks, spreader bars, double hammocks, gathered ends all been done before.






    ..........................................
    Tacblades

  8. #8
    Senior Member MrsKD's Avatar
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    This is fascinating! Love it!!


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  9. #9
    jellyfish's Avatar
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    Is this an angkor wat bas relief? Awesome!



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I sew things on youtube.
    Hammock origins, not lost to time.


    "The woods are full of eager interpreters" - Clifford Geertz

  10. #10

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    Did anyone else notice that the first drawing in the OP (Taino hammock) is really long? Everything old is new again.

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