The next time you rest your weary head atop your memory foam, down, polyester or wool-stuffed pillow, try to avoid recalling the object’s not-so-humble origins; you’ll likely conjure nightmares. The main purpose of pillows, at first, was not for comfort. Back in early Mesopotamian civilization, the half-moon-shaped headrests were made of carved stone, and their main job was to keep insects out of the mouth, ears and nose of a person sleeping on the floor. The Romans and Greeks brou-ght comfort into the equation, perfecting the pillow’s ability to support the head, neck and spine by stuffing cloth with feathers or straw. Initially, the bolsters were seen as a sign of wealth, though the general populace adopted them over time, especially as an accessory brought to a place of worship to cushion knees while praying. But solid pillows prevailed elsewhere for longer. In ancient China, for example—where it was believed that soft pillows pulled This story is from Kinfolk Issue Thirty-six Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 19 Going Incognito We all secretly wonder what mischief we’d make if invisible: When our identity is hidden, everything seems possible. Arts & Culture Issue 19 The Best Policy Sometimes we talk to each other without feeling heard. Honesty—a most intimate interaction—can be just as thrilling as its more devious inverse. Arts & Culture Issue 19 A Sense of Suspense With unhinged imaginations and mountains of cliff-hangers, the filmmakers behind the sci-fi podcast Limetown have all the makings of a scary story. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Like Clockwork In this new column about time, we learn how slipping off our watches makes us feel like deadline-damning renegades. Arts & Culture Music Issue 19 On a Grander Scale Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna now may live on the opposite side of the globe, but she’s determined to evolve while staying true to her roots. Arts & Culture Issue 19 Neighborhood: Fire Stations The firefighting profession has evolved over time from Ancient Rome’s rudimentary bucket brigades to today’s sleek life-saving departments.