In continuation to my previous entry on the connection we share with floor, I thought of putting some facts and figures together. These are in regard to postures, ergonomics and anthropometric data. But a more systematic way would be to jot down daily activities and see if these were/ are or can be performed close to the ground.
Squatting toilet : still used in many parts of the country but becoming rare. Found an interesting read about how squatting is healthier than using a western toilet. http://www.yourreturn.org/Inertia/Bowel_Cleansing.htm I think apart from what this article says, the action also ensures a bit of exercise.
Washing/ Bathing: In the absence of plumbing, water would be filled in buckets and bathing carried out sitting on the floor. This doesn’t happen if one is taking a shower, which is rather new in many societies.
Prayers: Although this is not a part of my life, prayers are often performed sitting on the floor.
Meditation/ exercise and Yoga: All performed on floor. Cant get better anywhere else!
Cooking: Cooking was carried out sitting on the floor in most houseolds almost half a century back. Now it is limited to households that cannot afford modern kitchens in terms of space or money. My great grand mother had a floor kitchen, my grand mother used to cook sitting on the floor but had the option of a raised counter and my mother has a modern kitchen. In a floor kitchen the family would sit around while the woman cooked, chit chatted, in winters we cracked peanuts around the slow coal fire. So cooking seems to have undergone a drastic change in terms of posture.
Cleaning: Washing of dishes is still done on the floor in one corner in many houses. In Indian kitchens, it is common to have helpers who are more used to sitting on the floor and cleaning, and therefore, sometimes there are little squares made specially for this. I have one in my backyard where the care taker of the farm washes here dishes and clothes. Cleaning also includes brooming and moping. I would imagine that around 90% of houses are moped with a ‘pochha‘ squatting and moving at the same time. Its only in institutional buildings and public spaces that cleaning is carried out with long stick brooms without sitting.
Working: This will vary from one occupation to the other. Most hand-craft work used to be and still is carried out on the floor. This allows for ample work space for groups, and works like a huge work surface instead to breaking it into smaller table surfaces. Most shops had floor seating for the shop-keepers behind counters of shops for daily needs. Cloth was sold sitting on the floor. Well in some places this is still not obsolete. My hometown is an example, but slowly being taken over by the retail sector. The older way of shopping had the shopkeeper personally showcasing the merchandise to each customer. There is also a more social angle to the context than mere ergonomics. Other professions like accounts were earlier carried out sitting on the floor. Most of the offices would have a ‘munshi’ or the accountant who sat on the floor with his account books on a short legged table. I am glad I have witnessed some of these practices. There are small pockets in old cities of India where you can still find this way of working. But in most places these have been replaced with tables and chairs. I dont deny the convenience of using furniture, like I am using right now. The point here is to compile floor connection and see where it takes me!
Sleeping: Ofcourse, there is no doubt that a mud floor is cool and most amazing to sleep on. With modern materials like cement, ceramic tiles the floor is too hard to feel comfortable on. Although its not uncommon to see even these floors used for sleeping. A simple mat or a mattress seems like a perfect bed for a good sleep.
Many new professions or job profiles or even social structures may not allow to have floor seating. Raised furniture definitely allows for more movement around work places. But in my mind the most limiting factor is the clothing that restricts one from using the floor for the above activities. It might make sense now to talk about postures and related costumes…perhaps in the next post.
exercise/ yoga: http://www.123rf.com/photo_2555536_two-young-women-on-yoga-mats-doing-downward-facing-dog-pose.html
cooking: images of Asia