Sunday, July 19, 2009
History of the chair
The chair is of extreme antiquity, although for many centuries and indeed for thousands of years it was an article of state and dignity rather than an article of ordinary use. "The chair" is still extensively used as the emblem of authority in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom and Canada, and in many other settings. Committees, boards of directors, and academic departments all have a 'chairperson'. Endowed professorships are referred to as chairs. It was not, in fact, until the 16th century that it became common anywhere. The chest, the bench and the stool were until then the ordinary seats of everyday life, and the number of chairs which have survived from an earlier date is exceedingly limited; most of such examples are of ecclesiastical or seigneurial origin. Our knowledge of the chairs of remote antiquity is derived almost entirely from monuments, sculpture and paintings. A few actual examples exist in the British Museum, in the Egyptian Museum at Cairo, and elsewhere.