Museum Homepage

The San Mateo County Historical Association
Online Collections Database

The mission of the San Mateo County Historical Association is to inspire wonder and discovery
of the cultural and natural history of San Mateo County.

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 2006.214.003
Description Doll Pillow, c. 1937. Blue checked cotton pillow with blue diagonal stitch design "///". Stuffed and sewn shut at edge.
Object Name Pillow
Collection 3D - Bedding
Title Doll Pillow, c. 1937
Date c. 1937
Creator Unknown
Role Fiber Artist
Inscription Text none
Notes "Pillows have supposedly been around since 7000 BCE, in early Mesopotamia. Of course, they were made of stone and so understandably less comfortable; very unlike what we think of as pillows today. In fact, it is said that these stone pillows were made to help keep bugs from crawling into the ears of wealthier citizens.

The ancient Chinese had a similar idea. While the Chinese decorated their pillows much more ornately, they were still made of hard objects-porcelain, stone, bronze, bamboo, or wood. Today, these pillows are sought after by collectors because of their beautiful and elaborate decorations.

The Japanese Geisha utilized smaller, but comparable, hard pillows to keep their neck raised off the ground at night. As a result, Geisha ensured that their hair remained perfectly coiffed for days on end. Geisha's in training would have their heads surrounded by rice at night so that if they fell off the sleeping block rice would stick to their hair.
The ancient Greeks and Romans had a slightly better idea of comfort, stuffing their pillows with cotton, reeds, or straw. Although these pillows were nothing like the ones we sleep with today, they were on the path towards modern pillows.

Of course, the Middle Ages soon arrived and halted most of the advancements human beings had been making-including pillows. Apparently, you could not even rest your head on a pillow the night before the weekly stretching or toe wedging. Men saw pillows as a sign of weakness, and at one point the only citizens allowed to rest their head at night were pregnant women (and the King).

Thankfully, along came the Industrial Revolution, and soon everyone had a pillow to rest their weary heads on after a long day's work in the factory."
[ 3/8/2017]
Dimensions H-3 W-4.875 inches
Medium Textile
Search Terms Household Goods
Subjects Houses