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Chaise Lounge Furniture - History of the Chaise Lounge

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While it seems like a simple piece of modern furniture there is a lot that most people don’t know about the chaise lounge. The first aspect that people don’t realize is that they are mispronouncing and misspelling the term. The correct term is the “chaise longue” and is pronounced as shAz-lo[ng]. It is French for “long chair.” This piece of furniture also has a long history. It originated in Egypt as a combination of a chair and day bed. The earliest examples come from excavated tombs dating back to 3100 BC. At the time, the regular beds of the Egyptians were very similar to our modern day beds. Sometimes these early chaise lounges would slant slightly downward and had built-in headrests made of wood, stone, or other materials so pillows were not necessary.

The chaise lounge has also been found in ancient Mesopotamian lands such as Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon. They were used in everyday situations by the rich and royalty. High-standing versions were also used in place of chairs during royal banquets.

The ancient Greeks also used the chaise lounge during large parties called a symposium. These parties were often used to introduce young men into adulthood. The Greeks called the chaise lounge a “kline.” Like the ancient Mesopotamians, the Greeks used the kline in place of a regular chair while eating. Usually, two people were on one kline, which was elevated higher than the level of the table. While eating, the people would lie almost on their stomach and chest, reaching out for the food. After eating, they would adjust so they were resting on their left side, propped up with an elbow.

Like many aspects of Greek culture, the Romans also adopted the use of the chaise lounge. They were used both for sleeping at night and relaxing during the day. Of course, the Romans also used the chaise lounge for banquets. They called the act of eating from a reclining position the “accubatio.” During Roman banquets, people usually sat three to each lounge. Additionally, the Romans used three lounges placed is partial square, so the usual dining party consisted of nine people.

Later, the chaise lounge began to be found in China. The earliest use by the Chinese was from the Ming Dynasty in 1368, but it continued to be popular well into the 20th century. The Chinese were the first to use the chaise lounge outside in the garden where the natural beauty and fresh air could be enjoyed while relaxing. The chaise lounge also became a favorite furniture item in some of the better opium dens.

On the other side of the world, the Olmecs also used a version of the chaise lounge from 1300 BC to 400 BC. Several old sculptures depict people and even gods relaxing in chaise lounges.

The modern chaise lounge was first popularized in 16th century France. The difference in the French version is that it was made primarily for people lying on their backs instead of on their stomach or side. It is traditionally made of wooden slats with a reclining back. In some versions, the angle of the reclination is adjustable. Some versions, however, are made from rattan or cane in a woven pattern. In the 20th century, the chaise lounge began to be made from a variety of different materials, including metal tubes and plastic. Those made for indoor use can be cushioned and covered with luxury fabrics, while those for outside use are often made of rubber or plastic bands around a metal frame.

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