August 26, 2019

"The hammock as an icon of America herself: engraving by Theodor Galle after Stradanus, ca 1630."



From the Wikipedia article "Hammock":
Spanish colonists noted the use of the hammock by Native Americans, particularly in the West Indies, at the time of the Spanish conquest. Columbus, in the narrative of his first voyage, says: “A great many Indians in canoes came to the ship to-day for the purpose of bartering their cotton, and hamacas, or nets, in which they sleep.”
 And here's "The Dream" by Gustave Courbet (1844):

49 comments:

Sharc 65 said...

Prurient. Scandalous.

Shouting Thomas said...

Got to give you credit, prof. You really grind out the content.

You were a solo NY Times Sunday magazine yesterday.

Impressive. I’m trying to motivate myself to produce. Thanks for your example.

Shouting Thomas said...

My back would hurt like hell if I slept in that position.

Of course, Indians worked at hard physical labor every day... farming and hunting. So, their bodies were very different from mine.

Kevin said...

“A great many Indians in canoes came to the ship to-day for the purpose of bartering their cotton, and hamacas, or nets, in which they sleep.”

A harbinger of the MyPillow and Sleep Number bed commercials that meet today’s New World arrivals.

traditionalguy said...

The Mattress Industry is booming.And its not made in China. I have represented some rich people from a niche in Mattress sales. So it is interesting that the original Columbian trade was in mattresses.

David Begley said...

And sailors used hammocks in sailing ships. They must have stolen the idea from the Indians.

Johnathan Birks said...

The Courbet painting is irresponsible. It depicts dozing diagonally in a hammock, which we all know is dangerous. Hammock properly or don't hammock at all!

rehajm said...

Beginner Hammock Camping- Part I

Ralph L said...

When I lived in Charleston SC in 1st and 2nd grade, I always got Pawleys Island hammocks (on the northern coast of SC) mixed up with Folley Beach just outside town, which I wanted to go to because everyone talked about it, but we never did because Mom thought she'd lose one of us in the ocean waves. We did get one of their hammocks, however.

Laslo Spatula said...

Because it has to be said:

Banana Hammock.

I feel better now.

I am Laslo.

whitney said...

The hammock is the greatest invention that has come out of South America. Maybe one of the greatest inventions of all time

gilbar said...

Business Hammocks are what's made America GREAT!

tim maguire said...

David Begley said...And sailors used hammocks in sailing ships. They must have stolen the idea from the Indians.

I thought of that too--isn't this the standard way the lower ranks sleep on a ship? I wonder how they slept prior.

whitney said...

Shouting Thomas said...
My back would hurt like hell if I slept in that position.

The pictures don't really show you how you sleep in them. You sleep diagonally and you end up sleeping flat but with 360 degree air flow. You are supremely comfortable. European Sailors adopted them almost immediately. And when you put one up you find you don't level it to the unlevel ground or maybe a crooked ceiling above you, it's to the lines of gravity. I just love hammocks

Ralph L said...

Hammocks without the spreaders (as on ships) look to be uncomfortable, but I've never tried one. Do they reduce seasickness, or are they just more compact and moveable?

gilbar said...

Supposedly, In WWII, when the Brits received our old 4 stacker destroyers through Lend Lease; they were OUTRAGED to find that American ships had bunks, instead of hammocks

Tin Cans and Greyhounds: The Destroyers that Won Two World Wars

Wince said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
todd galle said...

Thank you for drawing attention to the illustrious Galle family.

tcrosse said...

All hands heave out and trice up.

Wince said...

"The hammock as an icon of America herself..."

Unfortunately, the modern welfare state "social safety net" tends to work as both a hammock and a snare.

A hammock for those with a penchant for gaming the system, and a snare that traps and punishes those who would like to improve their lives through honest, productive work.

bonkti said...

At the center of Eden, God placed two trees. Paradise.

Darrell said...

At the center of Eden, God placed two trees

At the center of Eden, God placed four trees.
Adam and Eve each got a hammock.

Amadeus 48 said...

Courbet, like so many French academic painters of the 19th century, engages in voyerism and soft-core porn. Let’s have a few of those scenes from the harem, please.
Give me Rubens’s Het Pelsken or Manet’s Olympia. At least the women are alive.

todd galle said...

I actually prefer uncle Emile.

MayBee said...

They've gotten very popular around here- there is a newish style that you can put up between trees really quickly. They allow the local college students to borrow them on the nearby small university campus. Take one out for a day, put it up, and enjoy your afternoon reading by the river.

buwaya said...

There was always quite a lot of prurience in classical painting.

This is straight out of antiquity. Tits (and other things) have always been interesting.

Before harems, for plausible subjects (well, excuses) there were ancient history and mythology, and French royal mistresses. Look for Francois Boucher for one of many 18th century examples. Personally, I would like a Boucher. It would be educational of course. I have no proper place for one (yet) though.

As for harems, it seem an ancestress of ours was actually abducted into a Turkish seraglio. This was real.

Darkisland said...

Gilbar,

Just downloaded the sample of the Destroyer book. Looks interesting. Thanks for the recommendation.

re the old 4-stackers that we swapped to the Brits for some islands, I seriously doubt that they had bunks on them. Navy ships have never had "bunks", they have always had hammocks or racks. Only soldiers sleep in bunks.

I suspect that the destroyers had "hammocks" on them. Hammocks in quote because what the US Navy called a hammock is not what most of us would think of as a hammock. Navy hammocks were still in use, on a few ships, as late as the early 70's. I doubt there are any left, though.

It consisted of a pipe frame with a canvas sheet laced to it. One of the advantages was that you could loosen the lacing in heavy weather and it would sag, making it easier to stay in than a flat rack when the ship was rolling 20-30 degrees. I slept in one once in about 1970 when visiting a tender in Newport RI. Fairly comfortable.

Racks were mounted 2 abreast with a column supporting and separating each pair. Chains suspended the outside. This allowed them to be "triced up" or folded more or less vertical to allow more room and for cleaning of the berthing spaces.

By time I went to sea, in 68, most racks on navy ships were flat metal lockers, about 2' X 6' by 8" thick with hinged lid and a mattress on top. All your worldly possessions were kept inside.

In heavy seas, we were constantly rolling into each other's racks. In really heavy seas, we would sleep crossways.

Dewey's flagship, the Olympia had traditional hammocks and if you do the tour you can see the hooks in the overhead beams. An advantage of the hammock is that it does not require dedicated berthing spaces. When the hammock is taken down, the space can be used as a messdeck, workshop, gunroom or anything else.

John Henry

Amadeus 48 said...

Speaking of Boucher, one of his greatest hits is his suggestive picture of Louise O’Murphy in her boudoir. Now there was an Irish lass you could get behind! It appears that Louis XV thought so.

Ice Nine said...

Has anyone ever been actually *comfortable* in a hammock?

They're always so whimsically attractive - and then I get in one and wonder why.

rcocean said...

Look at that scandalous bit of calf. ooh-la-la.

rcocean said...

Yes, Hammock's are comfortable - in theory. In practice, something always goes wrong. They sway too much, the angle is wrong, the wind dies down and suddenly its too muggy, and the bottom is either too tight or its too loose.

Phidippus said...

If those ladies spent less time in the hammock, they might not be so chubby.

Maybe that's Lena Dunham's problem.

rcocean said...

I've never been in the Navy. I did visit the USS Alabama and USS Missouri. The living accommodations for the sailors were atrocious. Thousands of sailors all jammed together. Officers had it much better, with shared cabins. I kept thinking of how hot the ships most have been below decks in the tropics.

rcocean said...

Coubet was a naughty boy:

Young Ladies on the Banks of the Seine, painted in 1856,[29] provoked a scandal. Art critics accustomed to conventional, "timeless" nude women in landscapes were shocked by Courbet's depiction of modern women casually displaying their undergarments.

rcocean said...

Lest you think Coubet was a "free thinker" who wanted FREEDOM..he was a participant in the 1870 Paris Commune and wanted to destroy works of art that he thought guilty of "Bad think". For example the Vendôme Column:

"In as much as the Vendôme Column is a monument devoid of all artistic value, tending to perpetuate by its expression the ideas of war and conquest of the past imperial dynasty, which are reproved by a republican nation's sentiment, citizen Courbet expresses the wish that the National Defense government will authorize him to disassemble this column."

Mike (MJB Wolf) said...

Cool. That’s the new thing I learned today. Had no idea hammocks (hamacas) were a Native American invention. And they greeted Columbus offering welcome and objects to trade. The devil you say!

Ann Althouse said...

"The Courbet painting is irresponsible. It depicts dozing diagonally in a hammock, which we all know is dangerous. Hammock properly or don't hammock at all!"

According to the Wikipedia article, "Though one can lie in a hammock lengthwise or across its width, most hammocks are best used with a diagonal position, as it provides the most room and support."

DarkHelmet said...

What the heck is that animal in the lower right? Supposed to be a possum?

Amadeus 48 said...

Notice how America’s features are quite far-eastern and that cap looks downright Chinese. The artist hadn’t given up hope.

buwaya said...

I think it’s supposed to be an anteater.

DarkHelmet said...

Maybe a hairless anteater. Sure makes me want to come to the New World.

Darkisland said...

Etiene Dusart, who I used to come race motocross at Roosevelt Roads in the 70s invented what he called the "Hammock chair" and sold it in his art gallery in San Juan. It was essentially a short, sort of asymetrical hammock that suspended from a single point. You sat, rather than lay in it.

He even got a patent on it.

http://www.freepatentsonline.com/4188063.html

It was pretty comfortable.

Lots of local artisans make and sell hammocks so it was not long before they started making knockoffs. He sued them for infringement, they claimed that native Tainos had been making hammocks and hammock chairs since time immemorial and it was not patentable.

And of course both Etienne and his wife were Belgian so there was this whole cultural appropriation charge thing going on. (I don't recall "cultural appropriation" per se but they were certainly complaining about the concept.)

John Henry

Big Mike said...

Well, Althouse, at least you chose a Courbet instead of a Renoir.

Phidippus said...

buwaya said: "I think it’s supposed to be an anteater."

Makes sense. You like in a hammock eating crackers, pretty soon you have ants. And that attracts anteaters.

Every picture tells a story.

buwaya said...

It's a bit odd that Renoir is so unappreciated these days, what with all that body positivity thing for fat women.

One would think ... but logic is useless.

DarkHelmet said...

Now I'm pretty concerned about what's cooking in that fire in the background. Sure looks a lot like a human leg.

America, land of hairless anteaters and cannibals. I'm thinking this was not a recruitment poster.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

someone said they had a good recipe for hammocks and beans,
but we always found them to be too tough and stringy.

any tips?

n.n said...

I see the problem, while she's not in the kitchen, and doesn't have a burden weighing on her conscience, she is barefoot and untaxed.

Bilwick said...

Re the first picture: hot. Very hot.