In 1570 Pero de Magalhaes testifies to the total absorbtion of the hammock into the life of European colonials: "Most of the beds in Brazil are hammocks, hung in the house from two cords. This custom they took from the Indians of the land."
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In 1600, a hundred years after Pero Vaz de Caminha first slept in a hammock, Jean de Lery wrote: "Whenever we entered a village, according to the custom of the land, we sat each one of us in a hammock."
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It is not without a moment of tenderness, as Cascudo said, that we record the intrepid Alexander Von Humboldt slept in a hammock and woke to hear the voice of a parrot in the jungle of the Orinoco. It was the year 1800. In its youth this ancient parrot had lived with the Atures tribe who had died off in the wildernss in terrorized flight from the Caribs. This parrot talked their language. His was the last voice of the extinguished Atures heard along the Orinoco.
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During the 18th and 19th centuries conquistadors turned into the maraudingborn-in-Brazil bandeirantes, who slept in hammocks. Missionaries slept in hammocks. Plenty of adventurers starved in hammocks. Curious travelers laid down in the hammock. Devoted naturalists and dedicated hunters slept in hammocks. Teddy Roosevelt slept in a hammock, caught malaria, and had a river named after him.
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"I have many occasions to notice that everywhere there were Indians, the Europeans have destroyed them, but first they approupriated their customs, like paddling their canoes, eating their potatoes and tomatoes, smoking their tobacco, growing their corn, and sleeping in their hammocks."
Augusto de Sainte-Hilairez--1822
MANY REASONS WHY THE HAMMOCK IS BETTER THAN THE BED
We have to fit ourselves to the grid of a bed,
but the hammock molds itself to our forms.
The bed, hardly a fellow traveler of our desires, squares off sleep; but the hammock collaborates in the movement of our dreams.
Now the bed requires us to take its manner, fixing us to itself,
and we look for repose in a succession of positions.
But the hammock takes on our individual shape and becomes one with our habits, answering individual form.
The bed is rigid, predetermined, and angular.
But the hammock is hospitable, comprehensive, and accomodating, ready to meet all the whims of our fatigue
and the unforeseen containment of our tranquility.
The old mother, the young wife.
When we find our spot in a hammock, our bodies correspond with ancestors beyond memory. Gravitationally inevitable, this congruence stretches back before the Fall, as Adam only took to his bed after the expulsion from Eden.
First cousin of the fisherman's net, the hammock holds our bodies and catches our dreams. Do you suppose the spider's web was its aboriginal inspiration, sometime back in the early Paleoulithic?
The hammock is suspect in realms where the clock is preeminuent, that is, in most of the so-called civilized world. The clock itself is threatened by the hammock because time disappears. Hours do not apply. It is best to think in more ample terms measured by sun and moon rather than the decimauled seconds of modern "chronometers." Afternoon, evening, night, morning are the human portions of the day--any one of which can be fulfilled in the hammock. It is the true enemy of hurry and foe of mindless agitation that demands constant change of scene. Even though the hammock was born in a primeval culture, it can still soothe the rattled body of modern life by reconciling the great contraries of movement and stillness.
This invention that is so munificent to humanity asks the least in return. Think of your car.