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 40 Object Matters A searching history of the crossword. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Shelf Life The rise and rise of design objects. Arts & Culture Issue 37 Object Matters A potted history of the bonsai tree. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Karin Mamma Andersson Inside the moody, mysterious world of Sweden’s preeminent painter. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Jenny Odell The acclaimed author in search of lost time. Arts & Culture Issue 49 Amalie Smith The Danish arts writer finding clarity between the lines.