Cultures from all over the world use pillows for decorating and comfort. Some cultures, like the Japanese, prefer to use pillows as seating, while other cultures, like Moroccans, spend weeks weaving decorative pillows and blankets for their homes. Below, we analyze some interesting trends in other countries for your pillow inspiration.
Japan. Dakimakura is a word that comes from the words daki and makura, which mean “to hug or cling” and “pillow,” respectively. Essentially, this translates to hug pillow. These traditional items are very similar to body pillows in the United States. Over time the word began to evolve, slowly becoming to mean “love pillow,” something people held when they were lonely or their spouses were away for the night. Today, this word has merged in Japanese popular culture, and the dakimakura’s popularity has exploded. The meaning is a tad different now as characters from Japanese popular culture have their faces printed on the top.
The zabuton is another important Japanese tradition, where squat but sturdy square pillows are used for sitting instead of chairs. They gained immense popularity during the Kamakura Era of Japan – between 1185 – 1333 AD. The zabuton is occasionally paired with a wooden zaisu, or wooden support. This backing prevents the pillow from sliding around. It is important that the zaisu and zabuton match in both color and style.
Indonesia. A guling is a cylindrical pillow borne out of Indonesian culture. It is considered standard fare before going to sleep and is a very round body pillow. Incorrectly (or perhaps mischievously) translated to “Dutch wife” in English, it is also sometimes used for decoration or to hold a person’s place on a bench.
Philippines. From these tropical islands comes another body pillow called the abrazador, which translates to “embrace.” Not used for decoration, these decorative pieces were made by family members when a child left the house.
Morocco. In Morocco, wedding preparations takes weeks. The guests are invited into a drifting passage that opens into a courtyard, then into the dormiria, where the reception takes place. The family spends weeks painting furniture, sometimes homemade, weaving rugs, and making pillows as décor for the dormiria. In the past, it was considered tacky to not create the pillows and rugs by hand.
China. Many people in China and throughout Asia believed that soft pillows robbed the body of energy while you slept, so they perfected the creation of hard pillows. These were made of stone, wood, and at one point, ceramic. These pillows were engraved, painted, and filled with stories of their families’ past.
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