The climatic conditions of the valley of the Euphrates were not so favorable for the preservation of objects fashioned out of wood as were the tombs of the Nile valley, and, therefore, we have only carvings on the monuments and some fragmentary metal-work as examples of Babylonian furniture. The chairs resemble those of Egypt in character, animals and captives entering into the decoration. The lion, bull, ram and horse frequently occur in whole, or part. Beautifully carved footstools also appear with feet of lions' paws and bulls' hoofs. The feet of the seats in the Assyrian sculptures at Khorsa-bad resemble inverted pine-cones.
The couches were similarly ornamented and supplied like the chairs with luxurious cushions. A slab of the Seventh Century B. C, shows the king and queen taking a meal in their garden. The king lies on a couch, the head of which curves forward and serves as an arm-rest. The legs and rails are square and the feet conical. The decoration consists of human figures, lions, mouldings and scrolls. The queen sits on a high, straight-backed chair with curved arms. This shows where the Greeks derived the custom of the men reclining and women sitting at meals.
Netted or reed-bottomed chairs were comfortably upholstered with stuffed seats and backs and richly worked cushions. The seats sometimes had square, flat, leather cushions with painted decorations. In the course of ages, most of the textile materials have perished; but the wall paintings, such as those at Thebes, show that the chair coverings had brilliant colors and artistic patterns.
Plate LXXXIV - Anglo-Dutch Crown-back Chair, Cabriole Legs and Hoof-feet - Leather Chair with "Spanish Feet" - Metropolitan Museum
Lower Egypt being poor in timber, cabinet woods were imported. Chairs of ebony and other rare woods inlaid with ivory were fit objects of tribute. Thus Ethiopia seems to have excelled in their manufacture, for they appear in the tributes brought to Rameses II. by his black subjects.
The seats found in the Egyptian tombs which were placed there with other domestic furniture and utensils for the use of the mummy in the other world show that the native cabinet-maker produced work of great excellence both in taste and execution. The tombs, however, are the abodes of kings and priests and great officers of the land, and the chair was the seat of dignity. The paintings on the walls show that the ordinary person sat on the floor. In representations of interiors, such as the house of Ey, armchairs appear only in the dining-room. Even at social entertainments, we see ladies sitting on thick rugs or mats with which the floors are covered at all periods.
The oldest form of seat, found in tombs of the Fourth Dynasty, is a carved, wooden chair with legs shaped like those of a lion, and provided with a cushion. It was sometimes intended for two people, and is found as late as the New Empire. Under the Middle Empire it was made more comfortable by sloping the back and lowering the seat. It was usually high enough to need a footstool.
The chairs of the kings were often very high, the arms were carved in the forms of animals such as running lions, and the lower supports were figures of bound captives. Very few of these have been found in the tombs; M. Mas-pero did not know of one, but a specimen, owned by J. Howarth, Esq., is now in the British Museum. It is a splendid specimen of a royal seat, as the cartouche shows that it belonged to Queen Hatshepsut, of the Eighteenth Dynasty. It is apparently made of rosewood, the carved legs resembling those of bulls, with silver hoofs and a solid gold cobra twined around each leg. The arms of the chair are of lighter wood, having cobras carved on the flat in low relief. The markings of the serpents are represented by hundreds of tiny silver annulets.
Ebony Seat Inlaid With Ivory, And .
There are several beautiful chairs of the Eleventh Dynasty in the Louvre and the British Museum. One that has preserved the original brilliance of its color has its back ornamented with two lotus flowers and with a row of lozenges inlaid in ivory and ebony upon a red ground.
Camp-stools were common; the legs were sometimes carved like the neck and head of a bird.
The height of the chairs varied considerably. Some had seats on the level of the knee, and some were much lower. In form, the most curious one resembled the "kangaroo chair" of the early Victorian era. It made the sitter assume a posture with his knees approaching his chin.
The Greeks had several kinds of chairs. The thronos was the seat of the god in the temple, and the seat of honor in the house, where it was reserved for the master and his guests. It was a large chair with low arms and a straight back of varying height. The home thronos was made of wood; those in the temples and public buildings were of marble, richly carved with figures and garlands. It was accompanied by a footstool, either separate or attached to the front legs. The seats were supplied with rugs, skins and cushions.
Plate LXXXV Anglo-Dutch Chairs and Double Chair or Settee