History of the Hammock
So who invented the hammock? Most believe that they originated in the Central American countries of Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Costa Rica - and South American countries like Brazil and Equador. These countries have a richhistory linked to hammocks that predate North Americans by almost 1000 years. It is thought that the origins of the hammock started about 1000 years ago in Central America by the Mayan Indians. This sophisicated culture which produced some amazingly accurate calendars, the Mayan calendar, built the architecturally exquisite pyramids and stone palaces, created a writing system, and were extraordinary astronomers and mathematicians, also designed a web-like hammock which is still in use today.
The first hammocks were made from woven bark of the Hamak tree. The Sisal plant later replaced the bark as the material of choice for the hammock because it was more abundant, and its fibers could be softened by rubbing them against the thigh.
When Columbus set out to discover the "New World" hoping to find gems, spices and fine silks he found, instead, a load of natives of the Bahamas lounging in hammocks for their afternoon siesta. Columbus decided to take a load of hammocks back to Europe with him. Soon, many European sailors, particularly the British and the French, found the hammocks very useful and practical for sleeping at sea because of there ability to be easily stored.
The Europeans generally utilized heavy canvas cloth for their hammocks, which the British Navy used for three centuries. These naval hammocks, unlike their predecessors, were small, sweaty and cramped.