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The Hammock Man is the sole distributor of Mayan handmade hammocks from Mexico. Sending you a piece of paradise anywhere in South Africa

The History Of The Hammock

A Little Bit Of Hammock History

It is common consensus that the hammock was originally developed by the native Mexican people.  However, they were used widely across Central and South America.

The word 'hammock' comes from the Taino word 'hamaka', which translated means 'fish net'. The Tiano people inhabited the Caribbean region around the current area of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Although nowadays the hammock is often seen as symbol of summer, leisure, relaxation, and easy living; back then hammocks were used to safely avoid disease transmission, insect stings, and animal bites. By sleeping in a bed that was suspended above the floor, the occupants could be assured of a good night's sleep. As for the hammock ropes around the trees, these were treated with poisonous saps to keep ants and other insects at bay.

Mexican Lady Weaving A Hammock

Hammocks have a long and colourful history and there is much information published on them. We have decided to bring you some of the more interesting facts.

Mexican Hammock

  1. The Spanish colonists that had settled in the West Indies made the first documented reference to hammocks.
  2. It is believed that Christopher Columbus brought hammocks back to Europe on his return from the Bahamas in 1492.
  3. Despite the benefits of hammocks for use on naval vessels, the Royal Navy only introduced them to their warships over 100 years later in 1597.
  4. Hammocks were used on Naval war ships to save space and provide comfort, allowing the sailors to swing in motion with the ship. It was therefore much safer than the traditional bunk, from which sailors had been known to fall during rough seas, suffering serious injury and even death.
  5. NASA actually used hammocks in their Apollo program. There were two hammocks set up in the lunar module to allow astronauts to rest in between moonwalks.
  6. Mayan hammocks are made on a loom and are hand woven by men, women and children. Hammocks are also symbolically and culturally important for the Yucatecans, even the most humble of homes have hammock hooks in the walls.

There are many different styles of hammocks. The ideal hammock is a very subjective topic. Some of the more popular hammocks are: Mayan Hammocks, Travel Hammocks (Parachute silk), Spreader-bar, Brazilian, Naval, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan (Jungle),

  • Mayan hammocks are made from either cotton or nylon string that are woven to form a supportive net. Quality of native and modern hammocks depends greatly on the quality of the material, thread, and the number of threads used. The fine woven threads allow cool air in and around the body. Mayan hammocks are regarded as some of the most comfortable hammocks you can get.
  • Travel Hammocks, especially those made from high quality parachute silk (be careful of cheap imitations!) are ideal for the home, garden and especially travel. These hammocks are very light (0.5kg) but can hold up to 200kg. The high quality parachute silk conforms to the body and gives no pressure points on the spine. Also regarded as one of the most comfortable hammocks around.
  • Spreader-bar hammocks have wooden or metal bars at the head and foot of the hammock, spreading its width and allowing for easy access. Unfortunately, the spreader bars also make the hammock unsteady, since the meta-center of the hammock when sleeping is very high. This style is generally considered less stable and less comfortable for sleeping than other styles.
  • Brazilian hammocks are made from cotton. While Mayan and Nicaraguan hammocks are considered by some to have the potential to be more comfortable, the Brazilian hammock’s comfort is less dependent on its construction and therefore less likely to vary as highly from manufacturer to manufacturer.
  • Naval hammocks are usually made from canvas or strong cotton. They are intended to be durable and stand well the hardships of the shipboard use.
  • Venezuelan hammocks made today are generally of breathable nylon or polyester, and use Dacron or similar non-stretch suspension lines. They are 'inline' hammocks; like the canvas naval hammocks of old.

Many years have gone by since the invention of the hammock. For many people today the use of the hammock has now become less of a necessity and more of a luxury form of relaxation.  However, the hammock itself has remained very much unchanged for centuries.

Hammock Lifestyle