The chair has been used since antiquity, although for many centuries it was a symbolic article of state and dignity rather than an article for ordinary use. "The chair" is still used as the emblem of authority in the House of Commons in the United Kingdom and Canada, and in many other settings. In keeping with this historical connotation of the "chair" as the symbol of authority, committees, boards of directors, and academic departments all have a 'chairman' or 'chair'. Endowed professorships are referred to as chairs. It was not until the 16th century that chairs became common. Until then, people sat on chests, benches, and stools, which were the ordinary seats of everyday life. The number of chairs which have survived from an earlier date is exceedingly limited; most examples are of ecclesiastical, seigneurial or feudal origin.