The origin of…Cushion

“Cherish all your happy moments; they make a fine cushion for old age.“
Booth Tarkington

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Cushions have a long history and were part of the inventories of palaces and great houses in Europe in the Middle Ages. Back then they were made of leather and were big enough to function as a seat. They were also sued to soften the sitting on a chair or couch, which were quite hard to sit on back then.
In 18th century France the right to kneel in church on a cushion before the king´s(Louis XIV or the Sun King) image was a great honor and was only reserved for a special few.  These cushions were square and called carreaux.

In Asia, cushions have also been used in meditation. A Zafu is a round cushion used in Zazen (seated) meditation that was originally filled with the seed heads of reedmace (a type of plant). Nowadays you can also find them filled with kapok or buckwheat. The zafu is usually placed on a zabuton, a square cushion. Zabutons are more commonly used when sitting on the floor or sometimes when sitting on a chair.
In the Arabic world cushions were frequently used as a decorative element. They brought cushions and the word almohada (Spanish for pillow) to Spain.

The distinction between pillows and cushions is that pillows are used on beds and cushions on couches. The same distinction exists in Spanish (almohada versus cojín). In Dutch and Italian the word for pillow and cushion are the same (kussen and cuscino).

The origin of pillow will be covered in another post.

Cushion:
1. a soft object or part that is used to make something (such as a seat) more comfortable or to protect a surface from damage : a soft pillow, pad, etc.
2. any one of the rubber parts that the ball bounces off along the inner edges of a billiard table
3. something (such as an extra amount of money) that you can use to reduce the bad effect of something (such as an unexpected problem or expense) (source: Merriam Webster).

The English cushion from Old French coissin, seat cushion, from Vulgar Latin *coxinum from Latin coxa, hip/thigh, or from Latin culcita, mattress. Dutch kussen, Spanish cojín and Italian cuscino have the same origins.

Cushion in other languages:
Dutch: kussen
Spanish: el cojín
Italian: il cuscino

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Objects

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