05 Jun An insight on our Bedouin house of hair
An insight on our Bedouin house of hair
Imagine standing on a ridge of one of our desert’s mountains. In front of you is a vast yellow sand valley. You enjoy the view for a moment. You wonder how big this valley is. And how long it will take to cross it by foot or camel. Although the valley is dotted with small plants you realize it is hard to live in this hot and dry place. You wonder if people even still life here. And then your eye is caught by this dark thing in the far back of the valley. Your curiosity brings you closer to it. But what is this thing?
Beit ash-sha’ar, house of hair
This dark thing is a bayt shacar. Which is Arabic for house of hair; the Bedouin tent. This type of tent has been home to the Bedouin since ancient times. Our women are in charge of making and maintaining our tents. They use goat hair and sheep’s wool to weave strips on a loom which they sew together afterwards. These curtains are used for the outside. It takes them about 40 days to prepare one curtain. Depending on the amount of goat and sheep’s they have, it takes up to a year to make a whole tent. We use wooden pools made from fig trees to erect the tent. The tent is divided into a public and private part with a special curtain. This one is made of camel hair. A normal size tent fits up to 10 people.
Comfortable throughout the year
All outside curtains can be adjusted to our needs. In summer the sun warms the outside of the tent to be very hot. Although you might not expect it, the tents inside remains blissfully cool. In winter when it is cold outside our tent stays comfortably warm with just a small fire. And in the rare case of rain the weave contracts letting no water through.
Our tents layout
The tent is divided into two with a special square curtain called the qata. This curtain is made of camel hair. One section is our public section. The other section is our private section. Next to the curtain on the private side we stash our mattresses and bed coverings. The public and private section make it possible to regulate relations between men and women as we are used to in our culture and religion. But no section is exclusively for either men or women. If only close family is present, everybody can move freely. If outsiders are present, the men will receive them in the public section. During these visits our women will stay in the private area.
Our tents are easy to erect and easy to move. We move to places where there is enough food for our animals. Once the food is finished we move our tent and animals to another place. In spring when food is available widely we sometimes have a whole valley to ourselves. When food is scarce families put tents together in places where there is still enough food.
Although most of us settle down in Rum village the nomads inside us are still very much alive. In winter we built tents next to our houses. For the simple reason they are more warm and comfortable. And whenever we are free we take our tent and leave for the desert to spend our time there.
When you go on tour with us we can show you around one of the traditional tents in the desert.
See you in Wadi Rum desert,
Fawaz and Abdullah