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History of Curtains

Updated on January 17, 2012
Curtains in bedroom window
Curtains in bedroom window
Curtain with very simple design
Curtain with very simple design

Curtains (also known as drapes in United States) have a history almost as long as textiles. In ancient times, animal hides, furs and membranes were the first curtains used and they were placed over the doorways and affixed by hooks. Since it was a hide, it was rather stiff and did not drape well. North American native Indians stretched hide for tents. The doors of the tents were fashioned into a curtain flap for exiting and entering. Other than that, the flap was also used to keep out dust, insects and bad weather elements.

Over time, curtains on doors, windows and showers areas became a necessity. With advancements in textile production, including dyeing and weaving, the evolution of household textiles (primariIy items designed for warmth, like blankets, hangings and curtains) marched right along with developments in clothing. Linen and flax were the early textiles and they were first spun in ancient Egypt, followed by wool, cotton and then silk.

Curtain in living room
Curtain in living room

Although the ancient civilizations of the East in Persia, China and India had long-produced textiles and used these to separate rooms and cover openings, the ideas took so many years to translate to European and American homes. During the time of the Crusades, the trade with these ancient cultures brought examples of finely woven textiles to Europe. Over the centuries, textile production areas in Holland, Italy, UK and France became well known for silk, cotton, wool and linen inspired by the treasures of the East but later being adapted for Western tastes.

Fabric was very expensive in the middle ages and only the very rich or upper classes can have these items. But then the prices of fabric could evenually became more affordable after the industrial era and the development of the textile trade.

Black and white design curtain
Black and white design curtain

In the times of the Renaissance, increasing number of homes began to look more similar to present day homes. Many of them also have glass windows without being covered so they allowed light in and passersby to see inside. For warmth and privacy, hangings were used over them, and this again helped the texile industry and brought down the prices of curtains.

It took many, many years for curtains to evolve into what we see now. In the 1800s, textile manufacturing machinery allowed textiles to be more mass-produced which caused them to become what they are now.

Today, curtains come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials, patterns and colors.
Curtains that are used in the bathroom are known as shower curtain.
Curtains that are hung over a doorway are called as portieres.
Curtains vary according to cleanability, noise absorption, fire resistance, ultraviolet light deterioration, dust and oil retention, and life span. They can be moved by hand, by press-button pads or remote-controlled computers and with cords.


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      salamkool 6 years ago

      Persian carpets are historical and with high quality. The curtains too spell the civilization and the great workmanship on the planet.

      You can get the real identity at