A pillow is used to sleep on and support the head/neck or other parts of the body while sleeping, lying down or sitting. Sometimes pillows are used for decorative purposes as well on bed couches and chairs. Today's world pillows consist of plain or patterned fabric envelopes, which contain soft stuffing, ranging from feathers to synthetic foam. In ancient times and other cultures, pillows have been made of wood or stone. Pillows are typically covered with a cloth pillowcase. The word pillow comes from Middle English pilwe, from Old English Pyle (Old High German), and Latin pulpiness. The first known use of the word pillow was before the 12th century. The earliest record of pillow use is in Mesopotamia, around 7000 BCE. These ancient pillows were usually made of stone and used by Egyptians who propped their necks upon these stone pillows as a way to keep bugs from crawling into their ears, mouths, and nose. In Asia, pillows were initially being used by wealthy people. Like the early Egyptian pillows, traditional Chinese pillows were hard and made from stone, wood, metal, or porcelain. This is because early Asian cultures believed that soft pillows stole energy and vitality from your body while you sleep. However, pillows made out of certain materials were believed to translate energy from the stone to the brain. For example, Shantou (rock pillow) made from jade was thought to increase one's intelligence. Pillows were also trusted to cure headaches, depression, and other maladies.
There are three main types of pillows; bed pillows, orthopedic pillows, and decorative pillows. The appropriate size of a bed pillow depends on the size of the bed. A bed pillow's choice depends to some extent upon sleeping positions: one manufacturer recommends a thinner and softer pillow for sleeping face down, medium support for sleeping on one's back, and a thicker and firmer pillow for sleeping on the side. Along with the functional use of a pillow, it is also used for decorative purposes. These kinds of pillows have a lot of designs and prints on their cover. Designs on the cover are made by using many techniques like embroidery, tie and dye, block printing, and graphic prints, to name a few. Now let's see about the history of embroidery. Embroidery is the handicraft of decorating fabric or other materials with needle and thread or yarn. It also incorporates other materials such as pearls, beads, quills, and sequins. The origin of embroidery can be dated approximately 30,000 BC. An archaeological find shows the fossilized remains of heavily hand-stitched and decorated clothing, boots, and a hat. Chinese thread embroidery dates back to 3500 B.C. Embroidery and most other fiber and needlework arts are believed to originate in the Orient and the Middle East.
Primitive humankind quickly found that the stitches used to join animal skins could also be used for embellishment. Recorded history, sculptures, paintings, and vases depicting inhabitants of various ancient civilizations show people wearing thread-embroidered clothing. During the 1100s, smaller seed pearls were sewn on vellum to decorate religious items, and from the 1200s through 1300's beads were embroidered onto clothing. Traditional folk techniques were passed from generation to generation. Elaborately embroidered clothing, religious objects, and household items have been a mark of wealth and status in many cultures, including ancient Persia, India, China, Japan, Byzantium, and medieval and Baroque Europe. The process used to tailor, mend and reinforce cloth fostered the development of sewing techniques, and the decorative possibilities of sewing led to the art of embroidery. The fabrics and yarns used in traditional embroidery vary from place to place. Wool, linen, and silk have been in use for thousands of years for both fabric and yarn. An artist by the name of Ms. Deepa from Goa is making pillow covers, which have embroidered designs on them. Now let's see how a pillow cover is embroidered and stitched together.