Imagine Living in a Tent...
How would you like to live in a large cloth home, protected from the heat, cold and wind by handwoven walls and ceilings, your voice and footsteps muffled and absorbed by the dark goat hair fabric?
Some Arabian nomads, the Beduin, still live this way. As you sit on cushions and rugs on soft sand, watching smoke from the cooking fire curl upward, you smell the aroma of freshly ground and brewed Arabian coffee. As you wander through the rooms of the spacious, low-roofed dwelling, you are caught by light drifting through the weave of the cloth, throwing its pattern on you and the undulating cool sand underfoot.
You are told that your hostess made the tent and the rugs, cushions and saddlebags which are in use throughout the tent. She shows you her loom. Yarns over twenty-five feet long are stretched on heavy beams which are staked into the sand. It looks deceptively simple until she starts to weave. She sits on the ground, pushing and pulling, beating and plucking, to create the thick dense cloth that will withstand the severe sand, wind and wear of nomadic life. She shows you how she spins the strong, heavily twisted yarn on a simple hand spindle. She sits with a distaff full of twisted bunches of sheeps' wool tucked under her left arm. She holds the spindle in her right hand and turns it quickly in her open palm, guiding the stream of fleece from the distaff with her left hand. She shows you the patterns she has woven into the interior tent wall, which faces the part of the tent where male guests are entertained.
Experiences of this type are described by researcher, author, artist and teacher, Joy May Hilden.
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