The World of Beduin Weaving
books and recommended reading
Joy May Hilden
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Recommended reading: The Saudi Arabian Beduin and Their Fiber Arts

Burckhardt, John Lewis. Notes on Bedouins and Wahabys, 1831.

      . Travels in Arabia, 1829.

Cole, Donald Powell. Nomad of the Nomads - The Al Murrah Bedouin of the Empty Quarter, Aldine Publishing Co., Chicago, 1975.

As with many of the authors of books on Beduins, Cole lived with the Al Murrah and gives us a valuable account of the lives of this hardy tribe in the most forbidding desert during a period when many nomads had begun to settle.

Crowfoot, Grace. "The Tent Beautiful - a study of Pattern Weaving in Transjordan," Palestine Exploration Quarterly, 1945.

An interesting and instructive article, written in a conversational style, which describes the weaving and spinning process as well as the lifestyle of the Beduins.

Dickson, Harold Richard Patricle. The Arab of the Desert, George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., London, 1949.

      . Kuwait and Her Neighbors, 1956.

Dickson lived in Kuwait as a resident and a governor when the area was under British rule. His love for and interest in the people and their culture and artifacts, produce an intimate look into their lives in these two books. His painstaking illustrations of tents, personal belongings and animal gear are of special interest.

Doughty, Charles. Travels in Arabia Deserta, Philip Lee Warner, London, Boston. 1921.

A classic, written in archaic language and in great detail, about Doughty's extensive travels in Arabia before it was unified and became a Kingdom. His intimate knowledge of the people and their language and culture make fascinating reading.

Eastep, Wayne. Bedouin, Stacey International, London 1985.

A beautifull book of photographs and brief text by photographer Wayne Eastep and his wife, Patti, about a few weeks they spent living with two Bedouin tribes in Saudi Arabia. It introduces the reader to the enormous difficulties of nomadic life, and to the humor and wisdom of the people.

Faegre, Torvald. Tents, Architecture of the Nomads, John Murray, London, 1979.

A fascinating book about the tents of nomads around the world. It includes history of the evolution of tents as well as construction and design. Beautifully illustrated with drawings.

Ferdinant, Klaus. Bedouins of Qatar, Thames and Hudson, London, 1993.

A detailed ethnographic documentation of the lives and material culture of two Beduin tribes in a small country sharing a boundary with Saudi Arabia. The research and photography was conducted during two and a half months in 1959 by Klaus Ferdinand and filmaker and photographer Jette Bang of Denmark under the auspices of The Carlsberg Foundation's Nomad Research Project.

Jones, Gigi Crocker. Traditional Spinning and Weaving in the Sultanate of Oman, The Historical Association of Oman.1989.

A concise and detailed survey of fiber arts practiced by the varied populations of Oman, which shares a southeast border with Saudi Arabia. The author observes and documents the techniques described.

Lancaster, William. Rwala Bedouin Today, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1981.

An authoritative and relatively recent classic about a much-written-about tribe.

Mauger, Thierry. In the Shadow of the Black Tents, Tihama Press,Jeddah, 1986(?).

      . The Bedouins of Arabia, Souffles, Paris, 1988.

      . The Ark of the Desert, Souffles, Paris,1991.

Mauger's three books, a sampling of his extensive publications about Saudi Arabia, are primarily photographic, and originate from a desire to document vanishing cultures. Mauger penetrated areas seldom seen by even Saudi Arabs.

Musil, Alois. Manners and Customs of the Rwala Bedouins, American Geographical Society, New York. 1928.

An early classic in its field, this is a must for readers interested in Arabian nomads.

      . Black Tents of Arabia, Creative Age Press, New York, 1947. (Copyright 1935)

Nicholson, Eleanor. In the Footsteps of the Camel, Stacey International, London, 1983.

The author, a photographer and writer, shares family excursions into the deserts of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The black and white photographs illustrate these witty and philosophical tales.

Raswan, Carl Reinhard. Drinkers of the Wind, 1942.

      . Black Tents of Arabia (My Life Among the Bedouins), Little, Brown and Co. 1935.

Raswan (his adopted name; he was a German) lived as family with the Beduins and describes his experiences from the heart of an insider and the eye of an outsider.

Sanger, Richard H. The Arabian Peninsula, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y., 1954.

A detailed account of the life and culture of Arabia in the mid-nineteen-fifties. It includes information about handcrafts and nomadic life.

Stanley, Martha. "The Bedouin Saha Weave and its Double Cloth Cousin," In Celebration of the Curious Mind, Interweave Press, Inc., Loveland, Colorado, 1983.

A beautifully written article describing one pattern weaving technique widely used by Arab nomads. It is accompanied by instructions and diagrams.

Topham, John. Traditional Crafts of Saudi Arabia, Stacey International, London, 1981.

An authoritative book of photographs and text covering textiles, leather, clothing, brass, wood and other handcrafts, by an avid collector who lived in Saudi Arabia.

Weir, Shelagh. The Bedouin, British Museum 1976.

Based on an exhibit curated by the author for the World of Islam Festival, this is a concise and thorough look at the material culture and lifestyle of the Bedouins, particularly those of Jordan.

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