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Roman Furniture

The Romans used chiefly cedar and veneered their furniture with olive, box, ebony, Syrian terebinth, maple, palm, holly, elm, ash, and cherry. They are said also to have used tortoiseshell, horn, and ivory in their more decorative inlays. Summarised, Roman furniture consisted of the curule chair, a square seat with X-shaped legs ; the bisellium, or double seat ; the solium or special chair for the use of the head or ruler of the household ; footstools ; scamnum, bench, the cathedra, a chair used by women ; table (mensa) ; bed (lectus) and couch (lectus triclinium) ; and cupboard (armarium). Couches were frequently covered with tilts and curtains, arranged so that they could be carried as litters by slaves. Many articles of furniture were of bronze.

Among the historic furniture treasured by nations and religious bodies an especial halo of romance surrounds the "chair of St Peter," a solid square seat with pedimental back which is panelled with carved ivory. It was encased in bronze by Bernini in the fourth or fifth century. Legend suggests that the chair was originally in the possession of Pudens, an early Christian convert, and that it had been given to him by St Peter. This remarkable chair is now the throne of the Pontiff of Rome, and its age is undoubted, if not its legendary ownership.

( Originally Published Early 1900's )





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