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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on Carriage


A carriage is a wheeled vehicle for people, usually horse-drawn; litters (palanquins) and sedan chairs are excluded, since they are wheelless vehicles. The carriage is especially designed for private passenger use and for comfort or elegance, though some are also used to transport goods. It may be light, smart and fast or heavy, large and comfortable. Carriages normally have suspension using leaf springs, elliptical springs (in the 19th century) or leather strapping. A public passenger vehicle would not usually be called a carriage – terms for such include stagecoach, charabanc and omnibus. Working vehicles such as the (four-wheeled) wagon and (two-wheeled) cart share important parts of the history of the carriage, as is the fast (two-wheeled) chariot.

The word carriage (abbreviated carr or cge) is from Old Northern French cariage, to carry in a vehicle. it was also used for railway carriages, and was extended to cover automobile around the end of the nineteenth century, when early models were called horseless carriages.

A carriage is sometimes called a team, as in "horse and team". A carriage with its horse is a rig. An elegant horse-drawn carriage with its retinue of servants is an equipage. A carriage together with the horses, harness and attendants is a turnout or setout. A procession of carriages is a cavalcade.

Some horsecarts found in Celtic graves show hints that their platforms were suspended elastically.

The earliest recorded sort of carriage was the chariot in Mesopotamia as early as 3000 BC. Used typically for warfare by Egyptians, the near Easterners and Europeans, it was essentially a two-wheeled light basin carrying one or two passengers, drawn by one to two horses. The chariot was revolutionary and effective because it delivered fresh warriors to crucial areas of battle with swiftness.

First century BC Romans used sprung wagons for overland journeys. It is likely that Roman carriages employed some form of suspension on chains or leather straps, as indicated by carriage parts found in excavations.

The kingdoms of the Zhou Dynasty and Warring States were also known to have used carriages as transportation. With the decline of these civilizations these techniques almost disappeared.

The medieval carriage was typically a four-wheeled wagon type, with a rounded top ('tilt') similar in appearance to the Conestoga Wagon familiar from the USA. Sharing the traditional form of wheels and undercarriage known since the Bronze Age, it very likely also employed the pivoting fore-axle in continuity from the ancient world. Suspension (on chains) is recorded in visual images and written accounts from the 14th century ('chars branlant' or rocking carriages), and was in widespread use by the 15th century. Carriages were largely used by royalty, aristocrats (and especially by women), and could be elaborately decorated and gilded. These carriages were on four wheels often and were pulled by two to four horses depending on how they were decorated (elaborate decoration with gold lining made the carriage heavier). Wood and iron were the primary requirements needed to build a carriage and carriages that were used by non-royalty were covered by plain leather.

Another form of the carriage was the pageant wagon of the 14th century. Historians debate on the structure and size of pageant wagons however, they are generally miniature house-like structures that rest on four to six wheels depending on the size of the wagon. The pageant wagon is significant because up until the 14th century most carriages were on two or 3 wheels; the chariot, rocking carriage, and baby carriage are two examples of carriages which pre-date the pageant wagon. Historians also debate whether or not pageant wagons were built with pivotal axle systems, which allowed the wheels to turn. Whether it was a four or six wheel pageant wagon, most historians maintain that pivotal axle systems were implemented on pageant wagons because many roads were often winding with some sharp turns. Six wheel pageant wagons also represent another innovation in carriages; they were one of the first carriages to use multiple pivotal axles. Pivotal axles were used on the front set of wheels and the middle set of wheels. This allowed the horse to move freely and steer the carriage in accordance with the road or path.

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