What is "Bolster" - Definition & Explanation

The term "bolster" in textile refers to a specific type of pillow or cushion that is long, narrow, and cylindrical in shape. It is typically filled with a supportive material and covered with a fabric casing. Bolsters have been used in textiles for centuries, serving various purposes such as providing comfort, support, and decorative accents in home furnishings and bedding.

History and Origin

The use of bolsters can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where they were primarily used for functional purposes. In ancient Egypt, bolsters were commonly used to support the head and neck while sleeping, as well as for seating and reclining on various furniture pieces. Similar forms of bolster-like pillows were also found in ancient Greece and Rome, often associated with the luxury and comfort of the upper class.

Over time, the design and use of bolsters evolved across different cultures and regions. In Asia, particularly in countries like India and China, bolsters became an integral part of traditional bedding systems. They were used for lumbar support, sitting, and as armrests. In European cultures, bolsters were often included as decorative elements in luxurious interiors and grand beds.

Types of Bolsters

There are several types of bolsters available in the textile industry today, catering to different needs and preferences:

  1. Bed Bolsters: These bolsters are specifically designed for use on beds. They are usually long and narrow, spanning the width of the bed, and are placed against the headboard or used as decorative accents.
  2. Yoga Bolsters: Yoga bolsters are cylindrical cushions designed to provide support and enhance comfort during yoga practice. They are often filled with firm materials like foam or buckwheat and covered in durable fabrics for long-lasting use.
  3. Decorative Bolsters: Decorative bolsters are primarily used for aesthetic purposes. They come in various shapes, sizes, and designs, and are commonly used as accent pieces on sofas, chairs, or beds.
  4. Body Bolsters: Body bolsters are larger-sized bolsters designed to support the entire body. They are commonly used in healthcare settings, such as hospitals or rehabilitation centers, to provide positioning and support for patients.

Tips in Handling Bolsters

When handling bolsters, there are a few tips to keep in mind to maintain their quality and longevity:

  1. Proper Cleaning: Follow the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and maintenance. Some bolsters may have removable covers that can be washed separately, while others may require spot cleaning.
  2. Fluffing and Shaping: Regularly fluff and reshape the bolster to maintain its form and provide optimal support. This is particularly important for bolsters filled with natural fibers or down.
  3. Storage: When not in use, store bolsters in a clean, dry place to prevent damage from moisture, dust, or pests. Consider using protective covers or bags for added protection.

Top International Users and Manufacturers

Bolsters are widely used and manufactured by various international companies specializing in home furnishings, bedding, and healthcare products. Here are a few notable users and manufacturers:

  1. IKEA: As a leading global furniture retailer, IKEA offers a wide range of bolsters as part of their home furnishing collection. Their bolsters are designed to complement their furniture and provide additional comfort.
  2. Pottery Barn: Pottery Barn, a well-known home furnishing brand, includes bolsters in their bedding and decorative pillow collections. Their bolsters often feature stylish designs and high-quality materials.
  3. Tempur-Pedic: Tempur-Pedic, a renowned mattress and bedding company, manufactures bolsters with their signature memory foam technology, providing exceptional support and comfort.
  4. Medline: Medline, a leading healthcare supplier, offers a range of body bolsters designed for patient positioning and support in medical facilities. Their bolsters are made with durable materials to withstand frequent use.
  5. YogaDirect: YogaDirect specializes in yoga accessories, including yoga bolsters. They offer a variety of bolsters designed to provide comfort and support during yoga and meditation practices.


Bolsters have a rich history and serve a variety of purposes in textile applications. Whether used for comfort, support, or decoration, bolsters have become essential elements in home furnishings, bedding, and healthcare settings. With different types available and various manufacturers catering to diverse needs, bolsters continue to offer both functional and aesthetic value in the textile industry.

The portion of the seat that rolls over or forms the uppermost part of the seatback or the leading edge of the seat itself. 4. A cylindrical pillow.
A long pillow forming part of a sofa, also used across a bed.

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