A Brief History of Curtains and Drapes

20 Aug 2018 20:39

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A curtain, occasionally called a curtain, is traditionally a bit of cloth meant to block or obscure light and drafts from a window. A curtain can be known commonly as a moveable display or drape in a theatre which separates the stage from the auditorium and functions as a backdrop.

Linings can also be employed to (dim-out or blackout) external light from entering a room, which is where the term Blackout Curtains is often used. Linings also supply an immediate aesthetic function by adding to the drapeability of the cloth; additional weight helps to anchor the curtains and creates a more complete and luxurious window therapy.

Carpets have a history almost as long as textiles, but there's much hesitation about where and how to hang them. From evidence found in excavation sites at Olynthus, Pompeii and Herculaneum, portieres appear to have been used as space dividers in classic antiquity. Mosaics from the 2nd to 6th century series curtains suspended from rods spanning arches.

Before central heating and air conditioning, people didn't always get to pick light over heat. Curtains of one form or another were used to define space and create privacy.

The first curtains were made from animal hides that were placed over doorways. Early textiles were linen and flax, first spun in early Egypt, followed by wool and later cotton and silk.

Until the latter part of the 16th century especially in England, window curtains were almost non-existent. When drapes did finally make an appearance, they were produced from one piece of fabric hung on an iron pole with iron rings sewn onto the fabric, and pulled out of 1 side of the window.

Window drapes were still rare in 17th century England, normally found only in significant rooms in expansive houses. In late 18th century England, easy, straight drapes were still widely utilized, often tacked straight onto the window frame. By the 19th century thinner draped drapes were used in pairs normally hung from rods which were often decorative with decorations like laurel wreaths and rosettes. The Regency and Empire style generally consisted of complete length drapes trailing on the floor and pinned back by curtain hooks to keep them out of their way during the day. Under Ripplefold Drapery were also extremely popular by this time and were more often than not a considerably lighter fabric such as silk or muslin.

By the 1900's techniques, fibres and dyes revolutionised the fabric business and drapes and window and window dressings became more prevalent in both affluent and working class homes.

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