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Encyclopedia > Sedan chair
A Sedan chair, revived at the Turkish Village of the World's Columbian Exposition, 1893
A Sedan chair, revived at the Turkish Village of the World's Columbian Exposition, 1893

A Sedan chair is an enclosed windowed chair with an upholstered interior suitable for a single occupant, which was carried by two porters, one in front, one behind, using wooden rails that passed through metal brackets on the sides of the chair. These porters were known in London as "chairmen" and could be counted on to turn out in any public brawl. sedan chair, 1893 This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... sedan chair, 1893 This image has been released into the public domain by the copyright holder, its copyright has expired, or it is ineligible for copyright. ... World Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893 The World Columbian Exposition (also called The Chicago Worlds Fair), a Worlds fair, was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbuss discovery of the New World. ... Typical Western wooden chair A chair is a piece of furniture consisting of a seat, legs, back, and sometimes arm rests, for use by one person. ... St. ...

These have been very rare since the 19th century, but such enclosed portable litters have been used as an elite form of transport for centuries, especially in cultures where women are kept secluded. In Ancient Rome, a litter (lectica) carried members of the imperial family. Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Litter in the habitat of a lizard. ... In sociology as in general usage, the élite (the elect, from French) is a relatively small dominant group within a larger society, which enjoys a privileged status which is upheld by individuals of lower social status within the structure of a group. ... Ancient Rome was a civilization that existed in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East between 753 BC and its downfall in AD 476. ...


In Asia

In Han China the elite travelled in light bamboo seats supported on a carrier's back like a backpack. In the Northern Wei Dynasty and the Northern and Southern Song Dynasties, wooden carriages on poles appear in painted landscape scrolls. Han commanderies and kingdoms AD 2. ... The Northern Wei Dynasty (北魏 386-534) is most noted for the unification of northern China in 440, it was also heavily involved in funding the arts and many antiques and art works from this period have survived. ... The Song Dynasty (Chinese: 宋朝) was a ruling dynasty in China from 960-1279. ...

Such wooden or bamboo litters, (now often called "sedan chairs") used by women and the elderly among common people were called minjiao, the mandarin class using an official guanjiao enclosed in silk curtains. A traditional bride is carried to her wedding ceremony by a similar “shoulder carriage” or jianyu lacquered a fortunate shade of red. In Korea, both the bride and groom are carried to the ceremony in separate, elaborately decorated litters. A tree trunk as found at the Veluwe, The Netherlands Wood is an organic material found as the primary content of the stems of woody plants, especially trees, but also shrubs. ... Genera Many, see text Bamboos are a group of woody perennial evergreen plants in the true grass family Poaceae, subfamily Bambusoideae, tribe Bambuseae. ... Mandarin has a number of meanings: An Imperial Chinese bureaucrat, see mandarin (China), and in the UK, by analogy, any government bureaucrat. ... Nubian wedding with some international modern touches, near Aswan, Egypt A wedding is a civil or religious ceremony at which the beginning of a marriage is celebrated. ... In a general sense, lacquer is a a clear or colored coating, that dries by solvent evaporation only and that produces a hard, durable finish that can be polished to a very high gloss, and gives the illusion of depth. ...

In Hong Kong the annual sedan chair race to benefit the Matilda Hospital has been run since 1907.

In Europe

In Europe, it took four strong chairmen to carry the corpulent Henry VIII of England in the chair he was carried in, towards the end of his life, but the expression "sedan chair" was not used in print until 1615. It does not seem to take its name from the city of Sedan. Trevor Fawcett notes (see link) that English travellers like Fynes Moryson (in 1594) and John Evelyn (in 1644-5) noted with interest the seggioli of Naples and Genoa, which were chairs for public hire slung from poles and carried on the shoulders of two porters. Henry VIII (28 June 1491 – 28 January 1547) was King of England and Lord of Ireland (later King of Ireland) from 22 April 1509 until his death. ... Events June 2 - First Récollet missionaries arrive at Quebec City, from Rouen, France. ... For other uses of Sedan, see Sedan (disambiguation). ... John Evelyn (October 31, 1620 - February 27, 1706) was an English writer, gardener and diarist. ... Location within Italy Naples (Italian Napoli, Neapolitan Napule, from Greek Νέα Πόλις - Néa Pólis - meaning New City) is the largest city in southern Italy and capital of Campania Region. ... Location within Italy Flag of Genoa Christopher Columbus monument in Piazza Aquaverde Genoa (Italian Genova, Genoese Zena, French Gênes) is a city and a seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria. ...

From the mid 17th century, visitors to take the waters at Bath would be conveyed in a chair enclosed in baize curtains, especially if they had taken a heated bath and were going straight to bed to sweat. The curtains kept off a possibly fatal draft. These were not the proper sedan chairs "to carry the better sort of people in visits, or if sick or infirme" (Celia Fiennes). In the 17th and 18th centuries, the chairs stood in the main hall of a well-appointed city residence, where a lady could enter and be carried to her destination without setting foot in a filthy street. The tasteful neoclassical sedan chair made for Queen Charlotte remains at Buckingham Palace. Sedan chairs could pass in streets too narrow for a carriage. Palladian Pulteney Bridge and the weir at Bath Bath is a city in south-west England, most famous for its baths fed by three hot springs. ... Neoclassicism (sometimes rendered as Neo-Classicism or Neo-classicism) is the name given to quite distinct movements in the visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture. ... Princess Charlotte Sophia of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (May 19, 1744 - November 17, 1818) was the queen consort of King George III. Coronation portrait of Queen Charlotte by Allan Ramsay, National Portrait Gallery // Birth, youth, and marriage Charlotte was the youngest daughter of Charles Louis Frederick, Prince of Mecklenburg-Strelitz-Mirow (23... Buckingham Palace and the Victoria memorial. ...

By the mid-17th century, sedans for hire were a common mode of transportation. In London, "chairs" were available for hire in 1634, each assigned a number and the chairmen licensed, because the operation was a monopoly of a courtier of Charles I. Sedan chairs were meant to alleviate the crush of coaches in London streets, an early instance of traffic congestion. A similar system was later used in Scotland. In 1738, a fare system was established for Scottish sedans, and the regulations covering chairmen in Bath remind the reader of a modern Taxi Commission's rules. A trip within a city cost six pence and a day’s rental was four shillings. A sedan was even used as an ambulance in Scotland's Royal Infirmary. Charles I (19 November 1600–30 January 1649) was King of England, Scotland and Ireland from 27 March 1625, until his death. ... Traffic jams are common in heavily populated areas. ... Scotland (Alba in Scottish Gaelic) is a country and constituent nation of the United Kingdom. ... Taxis as seen in New York City Taxi may mean: // Transport A form of public transportation: see taxicab. ...

Chairmen moved at a good clip. In Bath they had the right-of-way: pedestrians hearing "By your leave" behind them knew to flatten themselves against walls or railings as the chairmen hustled through. There were disastrous accidents, upset chairs, broken glass-paned windows.

Sedan chairs were used by the wealthy in the cities of colonial America. Benjamin Franklin used a sedan chair until late in the 1700s. Benjamin Franklin by Jean-Baptiste Greuze 1777 For the former mayor of Nepean, see Ben Franklin (politician) Dr. Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 – April 17, 1790) was an American printer, journalist, publisher, author, philanthropist, abolitionist, public servant, scientist, librarian, diplomat, and inventor. ...

The end of a tradition

In the early 19th century, the public sedan chair began to go out of use, perhaps because streets were better paved, perhaps because of the rise of the more companionable hackney carriage. In Glasgow the licensing records show 1800, twenty-seven sedans; 1817, eighteen sedans, 1828, ten sedans. In that same period the number of registered hackney carriages in Glasgow rose to one hundred and fifty. In the United Kingdom, a hackney carriage is a taxicab licensed by the Public Carriage Office in the London Metropolitan Area or by the local authority in other parts of England and Wales and the Scottish Executive in Scotland. ... Glasgows location in Scotland Glasgow (or Glaschu in Gaelic) is Scotlands largest city, on the River Clyde in west central Scotland. ...

"Riding in a Silla", Chiapas, c. 1840
"Riding in a Silla", Chiapas, c. 1840

Traveling By Silla, by Frederick Catherwood. ... Traveling By Silla, by Frederick Catherwood. ... Chiapas is a state in the southeast of Mexico. ...

The traveling "Silla" of Latin America

A similar but simpler device was used by the elite in parts of 18th and 19th century Latin America. Often simply called a silla (chair), it consisted of a simple wooden chair with tump-line attached. The occupant sat in the chair, which was then affixed to the back of a single porter, with the tump-line supported by his forehead. The occupant thus faced backwards during travel. This was probably devised because the area had many rough roads unsuitable to European style sedan chairs. Travelers by silla usually employed a number of porters, who would trade off carrying the occupant. Latin America consists of the countries of South America and some of North America (including Central America and some the islands of the Caribbean) whose inhabitants mostly speak Romance languages, although Native American languages are also spoken. ...

See also

Pope John Paul I being carried on the Sedia Gestatoria The sedia gestatoria is the portable throne on which Popes are sometimes carried. ...

External link

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In London, "chairs" were available for hire in 1634, each assigned a number and the chairmen licensed, because the operation was a monopoly of a courtier of Charles I.
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Sedan chairs were used by the wealthy in the cities of colonial America.
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