Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Return To Tradition

Originally, this was to be our business tag line. Why you ask? Well, let me enlighten you.

Back in a day, women used to bring dowry with them into marriage. The idea was that a single man cannot be expected to have these things available, so the new wife would bring things they need for the household: pots, pans, dishes, utensils, bedding, mattresses, pillows, rugs, curtains, shams, tablecloths, etc. She would start making and decorating these items when she was really young, as early as 8-years-old. Dowry was a way to show how well to do was the girl's family, and also to show off her household skills, a very important "selling" point.

The mattresses were the last ones to make. The wool would be collected, washed and stored for years. The reason for this was following: for a 5 inch twin size mattress you would need about 40-50 pounds of wool. Oh, yeah, these things were heavy. 50 pounds of cleaned wool takes up almost 100 cubic feet - no kidding. This wool was stuffed into the damask covers. The reason damask was used was simple: it has a very sturdy, tight weave, so the wool would not escape and shed. Over the course of time, and due to use, the wool would obviously lose some of its volume, but it was enough for it to be aired for a day or so, and it would spring back up.

Maintenance: Every 25 years or so, the wool would be taken out of the cover and washed again.

How do I know this? I used to sleep on one of those things. Yes, my Mom brought some with her when she got married. And she made them from her Mother's, my Grandmother's, mattresses. Of course, in the 1970's they really didn't need to hand-make wool mattresses, but my Grandmother is Albanian, and very much stickler for a tradition.

It also appears that this dowry tradition was lost in America, several generations ago, or it has simply transferred into exchange of money, since with money, you could simply buy or have made all these things. With the invention and cheapness of springs and plastic, the wool was forgotten.


  1. Wow, what a cool mini history lesson!

  2. Thanks Shari :)
    Glad you like it. There's more to come with some really interesting old photos.