A curtain (sometimes known as a drape, mainly in the United States) is a piece of cloth intended to block or obscure light, or drafts, or water in the case of a shower curtain. A curtain is also the movable screen or drape in a theater that separates the stage from the auditorium or that serves as a backdrop.

Although the words curtain and drape are commonly used interchangeably, drapes distinguish themselves by containing lining sewn onto the reverse side of the fabric. (source needed) The purpose of lining is to protect drapes and interior spaces from damaging UV rays (UV lining), the rotting of silks, adverse light conditions (dim-out & blackout lining), and fading colored dyes. Linings also provide an immediate aesthetic purpose by adding to the drapeability of the fabric; added weight helps to anchor the drape and creates a more full and luxurious window treatment. Unlike windows with drapes, windows with curtains lack the added benefit of light control and will exhibit a striping effect during daylight hours; a term that describes a visible striped effect caused by uneven light distribution between the areas of the curtain where it rests in front of the window juxtaposed with where it rests in front of the wall.

Curtains hung over a doorway are known as portières. Curtains are often hung on the inside of a building's window to block the passage of light, for instance at night to aid sleeping, or to stop light from escaping outside the building (stopping people outside from being able to see inside, often for privacy reasons). In this application they are also known as "draperies." Curtains come in a variety of shapes, materials, sizes, colors and patterns, and they often have their own sections within department stores, while some shops are completely dedicated to selling curtains.

Curtains vary according to cleanability, ultraviolet light deterioration, oil and dust retention, noise absorption, fire resistance, and life span. Curtains may be moved by hand, with cords, by press-button pads or remote-controlled computers. Measuring the curtain size needed for each window varies greatly according to the type of curtain needed, window size, and type and weight of curtain.

An adaptation of the curtain may be a blind or, in warmer countries, a wooden Window shutter that is fixed to the outside of the building to provide privacy and still keep the building cool inside. Curtains are a form of window treatment, and complete the overall appearance of the house. Window treatment helps control the ambiance and flow of natural light into the room. The effect of drapery or curtains, is best seen in daylight, and with proper indoor light positioning, can look attractive even at night.

Read more about Curtain:  Etymology, History, Light Control and Insulation, Commercial Curtains, Styles of Curtains, Gallery

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Famous quotes containing the word curtain:

    Once the curtain is raised, the actor ceases to belong to himself. He belongs to his character, to his author, to his public. He must do the impossible to identify himself with the first, not to betray the second, and not to disappoint the third.
    Sarah Bernhardt (1845–1923)

    We are born at the rise of the curtain and we die with its fall, and every night in the presence of our patrons we write our new creation, and every night it is blotted out forever; and of what use is it to say to audience or to critic, “Ah, but you should have seen me last Tuesday”?
    Michéal MacLiammóir (1899–1978)

    Nor skin nor hide nor fleece
    shall cover you,
    nor curtain of crimson nor fine
    shelter of cedar-wood be over you,
    nor the fir-tree
    nor the pine.
    Hilda Doolittle (1886–1961)