It’s hard almost impossible to determine exactly who & when came up with the geniousness of the simple idea of hanging in a net. Although we know it’s an oldy but a goldy! 


An Idea Well Over 2000 Years Old!

The earliest mention of hammock type invention was in 404 BC by a Athenian Politician making reference to a hanging bed. Although no exact description of how it worked was written (the basic idea kind of was there). Then in 1100 it was represented by a biblical sense showing Joseph in a hammock cart type contraption. Also reappearing in 1300s from the Luttrell psalter in the British 

Biblical Joseph being moved in a hammock cart. 11th century
Biblical Joseph being moved in a hammock cart. 11th century
Hammock in the Luttrell Psalter in England
Hammock in the Luttrell Psalter in England

Arrival into Modern History

The indigenous peoples of the Caribbean, Central & South America all have been known to use hammocks. This is because it was convenient bed to use when travelling around the area for trade. It also worked great to keep them off the ground from dangerous animals & even flash floods. 

Although the first European acknowledgment of hammocks was when Columbus returned to Spain after discovering what is now the Bahamas in 1492… Instead of returning with gold he came back with a boat load of hammock! 🤣 … basically the same thing! probably some other stuff to.

Why There First?

They are particularly useful in warmer climates. That’s the reason the were so quickly adopted throughout similar tropical climates. They’d also sleep in there drying fishing nets on the beach! Livin’ the dream 500 years ago.

A later Portuguese explorer noted in his log book; “in their thatched houses the natives sleep in nets that are attached with cords to wooden beams above. Below always burns a small fire to keep them warm and to repel insects. This strange, yet practical method of sleeping intrigued him.”

Net woven bridge hammock on the beach

Why is it called a Hammack?

The word comes from the Spanish conquistadors derived the word ‘homoca”, from the present day ‘hamaca’ from the Carib Indians, who wove fibers of the hammock tree. Although the Arawak tribe (who wove them) own word for them was ‘ini’ which translates as ‘bed threads’. Which I personally think is way cooler!

Then in 1841 it was added to the English Dictionary of Sea Terms as; ‘a piece of canvass, hung at each end, in which seamen sleep.’ 

Life or Death at Sea!

In the 1600s they were adopted widely at sea. Sailors (and pirates) used to sleep on the deck, and the natural wave of the ship would cause injury and even death! Hammocks were a perfect solution. The hammock saved lifes!! this hits me hard because the hammbag literally saved my life in Bali,

Boats also were ideal because they could also be removed and save space. The natural roll of the ocean not only makes it super comfortable but the rocking is hypnotic. The cocoon likeness of a hammock virtually makes it impossible to fall out. Despite popular belief!

Hammocks became standard gear

The practicality of storing it, the comfort and secureness was perfect for adventures at sea. Naval at the time powers realising there awesomeness they made it standard gear! They even used them on colder expeditions as cloaks for warmth. Sailors often wrote in journals that the hammock was the last source of warmth or security.

Sailors in hammocks on deck
Seaman in hammocks on deck
Pawleys Island hammock design
Pawleys Island hammock design

Hammocks Arrived Ashore

By the 1800s sailors were bringing them ashore because it reminded them of the sea and the comfortableness. It also suited the life style of a nomadic marine. Captain Joshua John Ward first manufactured hammocks in the South Carolina as the company Pawleys Island in 1889. They were bridge hammocks with soft cotton weave. 

Safe Lifes Yet Again!

During the construction of the Panama Canal in 1903 – 1908 thousands of construction workers were dying due to poor living conditions. including insects, rodents, snakes and wet or damp bedding area. They also used hammocks with built in mosquito netting to protect infants from diseases.

Then it Took War

After world war one soldiers & sailors were coming back with the tales of hammock and rebirthed it’s popularity in early 20th century. The second world war made another attest to that. Between wars it again was used for survival and emergency bedding for people struggling through the great depression. The hammock was quickly being introduced during the hole 1900s has a item for luxury and survival. 

Want More?

I learnt a lot writing this post from two sites; Buy more hammocks and Hammock Wikipedia. Funnily enough if you want a good read got to buy more hammocks! They have some really interesting details on the modern history of hammocks.

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