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There are so many different types and styles of hammock to choose from, it can get a little overwhelming trying to find the right one for you. Modern hammocks are created by a wide range of companies all over the world, as the market and demand have grown, and certain companies such as Hatteras, or Pawley’s Island have become world-famous for their products. Smaller companies, such as Novica, or Bliss are also making a niche for themselves with innovative designs and modern takes on a very traditional piece of furniture.
It wasn’t always this way, as the traditional hammock was produced by people from specific countries or regions, such as Brazil, or South America, where the Mayan hammock originated. These areas developed and produced styles of hammocks suited to their needs, and the features reflect the very practical approach to comfort and relaxation which the craftsmen and women of those areas believed in.
The Brazilian hammock, for instance, was developed by Brazil’s Tapeba Indians, and its distinguishing features reflect their needs. The weave of the actual hammock bed can vary quite widely between different types of hammock, and the Brazilian hammock has a much tighter weave than others, making it much more suited to cooler climates. The tight weave cuts down on ventilation, making it a less suitable choice for very hot climates, but much more comfortable to sleep in when the air is a little cooler. The tightness of the weave gives the Brazilian hammock a canvas-like feel, and many believe the comfort this adds is un-paralleled, as, being made of cotton, these hammocks are also very soft to the touch.
The Mayan hammock’s history dates back more than 1000 years, and these hammocks are made from a mesh of very thin fibres, giving the softest hammock-type in the world. They are works of art in themselves, the artisans who originally made them were often apprenticed from a very young age to learn the traditional methods. Nowadays, when you talk about a Mayan hammock, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was produced in a village by age-old artisans, as the term ‘Mayan hammock’, much like ‘Brazilian hammock’ refers to the structure and stylistic elements which are now so widely known. A Mayan hammock is the one which seems to hang lower than all the others when it’s laid in. They are ideally laid in diagonally, and usually have ornate tassels hanging from the edges of the hammock bed. Some hammocks have what are known as ‘Spreader bars’ which are pieces of wood at either end of the hammock bed used to spread the hammock out horizontally. Mayan hammocks do not use these, except in very rare occasions, and this means that the Mayan hammock is usually attached to trees or posts, and very rarely to a regular hammock stand. If you used a Mayan hammock with a regular hammock stand, it would dip so far that you’d touch the ground.
Rope hammocks are exactly that, hammocks made of cotton, or even synthetic rope-like fibres. The weave is much, much looser than the Mayan or Brazilian hammock, and they’re the one’s which you can see straight through, like a fishing net. The dimensions vary, as do certain elements of their craftsmanship and design, and this type of hammock is undergoing constant innovation. This type of hammock is probably the most recognizable style in the West, and conjures up the image of a Western porch hammock, often originating from the Southern States of the U.S.A. They have spreader bars, and are used with stands, which are made from a variety of materials, the most beautiful being wooden ones which can be beautifully designed and crafted – sometimes sold together with the hammock, and sometimes sold separately.
Copyright Tom West, 2006
About the Author: Tom west, author, and owner of the site www.buyahammock.com
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