Did you know that the Iconic Papasan Chair that we know and love today originated from Asian countries like the Philippines and Japan, where it is suggested that they were typically the primary chair of the patriarch of the household?
According to ‘History of the Papasan Chair and its return to modern homes’ by Well Worth Living “There was usually only one chair of this kind found in the home. Their origin dates back centuries as the mention of their existence can even be found in pre-imperial writings and ancient paintings.”
In John Kelly’s very detailed piece about the heritage of the Papasan Chair he writes that, “Papasan is not a word native to the Philippines. It is a Japanese term for a father or male elder. (Papa is an earlier borrowing from English, while san is an honorific suffix.)”“U.S. soldiers picked up Papasan and Mamasan during World War II and spread them throughout the Asia Pacific. Mamasan soon became slang for a madam of a brothel and, come the Vietnam War, Papasan was referring to a pimp” (the male counterpart or companion of a mama-san).”
Legend has it that U.S. military men first brought the Papasan Chair to the states as a gift for their wives,” says interior designer Sarah Barnard. “Paired with other treasures from their travels, the moon-shaped chair became part of the international and eclectic aesthetic ‘contemporary military’ or ‘military chic’ style.”
Michelle Konstantinovsky writes that, “It’s still not totally clear why the soldiers chose to bestow such a name on a circular chair, but it’s worth noting that Kelly says the term ‘papasan’ was also used interchangeably with ‘pimp’ during that era, and experts speculate soldiers may have first spotted the chair in red-light venues during the Vietnam War and associated it with sex culture. A stretch? Maybe. But there’s not much information out there to otherwise explain the name.”
Over the years this much loved cushioned reclining rattan chair has gone by many a name including Bowl Chair, Moon Chair, Bucket Chair, Roundabout Chair, Jackanory Chair and even just Big Round Chair, however they all refer to the bowl shaped construction of the rattan frame that is the Papasan Chair.