History of the Bathroom – In countries around the world, the bath or the shower is an important part of our daily life. When you go back in time, ancient writings talk about washing in a ritualistic ways and many art forms show bathing. Why all this? People obviously found value in being able to be warm, be cleansed and feel refreshed.
Besides the cleansing factors of the bath, relaxation or medicinal factors play a part in our approach to the bath.
History of the Bathroom
One of the first identified baths was found in the Indus Valley around 2500BC in the lost city of Mohenjo-daro. The large pool constructed of baked bricks was called the ‘Great Bath’. It was excavated in early 1900s in present day Pakistan.
Types of Bathhouses
Rivers, streams, volcanic waters and hot springs have for centuries been the most effective way for bathing.
Around 300 BC, Romans adopted the concept of public bathing. Bathing in Roman times was non-discriminatory meaning the rich and poor both used the public bath. For many it was the only place to get clean. The tradition of the public bath spread through cultures and thus became the social norm providing a place for social interaction.
In Turkey, the baths called Hammams, came about due to the influence of Roman and Byzantine baths. The concept of the Turkish Hammams was based on the notion of being extremely clean, purification of the body and purification of soul went hand-in-hand.
The Hammams also became a key place for gathering in a social context where life events were in-twinned into bathing practices. It was not uncommon for births and weddings to be held in part to a bathing ritual. Today, the Hamman is recognised as a place for socialising and relaxing.
In most of these bathing environments, the bathhouses are segregated based on gender.
In Russia, the banya, or bathhouse, in a central societal role by the 900s, it has been enjoyed by all classes. Workers who undertook manual labour would visit a bathhouse to wash off, while the rich Russians would sometimes indulge in private banyas. For some, visiting on a Sunday was a religious experience and continues to this day. An interesting act of the banya is when the bathers hit themselves with small branches and twigs of trees called veniki. Bathers do this with the aim of opening opening pores and increasing circulation.
Banyas usually include a cold plunge pool and a hot steam room with wooden benches at varying heights – the higher you go, the hotter the steam gets.
In Japan, the Onsen are natural hot spring baths. As you can appreciate, the country’s volcanic activity makes a great place to offer thermal bathing for soaking and for healing. It is believed that spirituality and rejuvenation stems back to the Buddhist monks around 500AD. They were instrumental in founding some of the earliest Onsen baths around the country.
In South Korea, the Korean jimjilbang is a family affair with everyone from children to the elderly joining in on the past time. Natural Springs that go back thousands of years have been the place to promote health and wellbeing from the bathing ritual. With the promotion of materials such as jade and mud, the aim is to relieve joint pain and stress, while baked clay may be used to promote detoxification.
In native America, the bath is a sweat lodge. The bathers in the sweat ritual gather inside a dome-shaped hut or tent, where a pile of heated rocks lies in the middle. A sweat leader tends to the rocks and may pour water on top to fill the lodge with steam. He also leads the group in prayer and song. During the ceremony, offerings such as tobacco may be made to the spirits.
In Finland, a country with around two million saunas, it works our there is approximately one sauna for every two to three people. Fins usually have a sauna once a week. Traditional Finnish saunas date back to at least the 12th Century. The Sauna is heated by a wood stove and no chimney. After a sauna most fins will either roll in the snow or dip into a cold pool or stream. This is usually done to invigorate blood flow.
Australian Bathing Habits
Little is documented on Australian Indigenous bathing habits and rituals, they would vary according to the access of water in wherever they were located in Australia, Coastal regions, the bush or desert.
When the first fleet arrived from England in 1788, along with it came western civilisation and all the other lifestyles features over the next 100 years.
The Tin bath was a feature in the Australian Home. It was easy, keep boiling the water and keep filling the bath. As utilities such as water and sewerage came to city areas and suburbs, so did the refinement of homes to include showers.
In the Australian bush, nothing beats a bush shower; a canvas bag, attached to it a shower nozzle. Fill the bag with warm/hot water hang it from the branch of a tree, and you have yourself the ultimate shower in the bush setting!
However, when outback, when you are stuck, there is one true and tried method for having a shower, watch this:
A bath, more to washing
There is more to bathing than just washing, having a bath is an experience one that provides and promotes health and well being. When you go to have bathroom makeover, look at all the other benefits of bathroom experience and consider the value you bathroom renovation is going to bring to your well-being.