27 Sep /16


Hammock – Word of the day - EVS Translations
Hammock – Word of the day – EVS Translations

The origins of the hammock go back nearly 1000 years ago, to the advanced Mayan culture where hammocks were not primary used for chilling out, but rather for protection from snakes and other poisonous creatures during sleep.

The hanging beds later spread through South America where people referred to the hammock as the ‘cradle of the gods,’ yet the official name took after the material it was made of, the bark of the Hamak tree, and came out as amaca in the Taino language and as hamaca in the Arawakan language.

Columbus and his expedition were the first Europeans to discover the hammock, landing at the Bahamas and finding the natives sleeping in hammocks and by cold weather –  placing hot coals or small fires under their hanging beds. Columbus brought the hammock to Spain, along with its name, recording it in his journal of his first trip to the New Word: “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.”

Soon, many European sailors found the hanging beds very comfortable for sleeping at sea and started using them extensively, and some 100 years later in 1597, the Royal Navy recognised their practical side to save space and prevent sailors falling from their beds through rough sea and introduced the hammocks to their warships.

The English language initially adopted the Spanish version of the word, to be first used in print by Richard Eden in his 1555 translation of the Spanish discoveries during the Age of Exploration as recorded by the Italian historian Peter Martyr of Angleria: “Their hanging beds..which they call Hamacas.”

Hammock – spelling

The original spelling, and variants of it, stayed within the language for the next century when the word finally got Anglicised to its modern pronunciation, to firstly appear in 1657, in Richard Ligon’s  A true & exact history of the island of Barbados: “Lie down and rest them in their Hamocks.” The modern spelling followed 80 years later, firstly recorded by John Atkins in his 1735 A voyage to Guinea, Brasil, and the West-Indies: in His Majesty’s Ships, the Swallow and Weymouth: “Seamen’s beds and hammocks are very much wanted. “

A century later, the British prison system incorporated the hanging beds for their space saving qualities, but that practise did not last long as prisoners started using the brass rings as weapons.

Later the comfortable hanging beds made their way to the Space, when NASA employed hammocks on some spacecrafts, yet for the general public, the hammock’s ideal place is on our planet and in particular, on a tropical beach.