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Similarly, the small porcelain figures of Meissen, which were originally part of a table decoration and an integral part of a service, are now too highly valued to be so used.The notion of interior design historically has arisen as part of a settled agricultural way of life.Excavations in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt suggest that the earliest equivalent of furniture consisted of platforms of bricks, which served as chairs, tables, and beds, no doubt spread with textiles or animal skins.There is also good reason to think that walls were painted and, in the case of more important buildings, decorated with mural paintings.The tents of nomadic peoples were hardly suitable for the more permanent forms of decoration.
It is in such furniture that decoration is first seen—in the leg of the bull and the lion employed as a furniture support, especially for beds.
Although the practices of present-day primitive peoples sometimes shed light on the historical origins of those practices, there is too little art and decoration in such communities today to illuminate the beginnings of interior decoration.
No clear-cut progressions of styles, like those that occurred in Europe, can be identified except among peoples who could hardly be regarded as primitive, such as the former civilizations of South America or the Benin culture of Africa.
Furniture, such as wooden stools, usually has some ornamental carving.
Basketwork, wooden vessels, and pottery are decorated with abstract geometrical patterns, and an insistence on symmetry is the rule.
Nevertheless, even the poorest and most primitive peoples devote some time to the production of works that give them pleasure, and these works often are employed to decorate interiors.