>Some time ago someone posted the instructions to construct a bedouin tent >(also called pushtun, pathan, or "leather butterflies"). I failed to save >these instructions, of course, and now would like to have them. The >instructions I recall created a tent large enough to sleep 20 or so people >and was extremely large. > >We'd like to be able to construct such a tent but in somewhat smaller size! > It wasn't me, but:

Depends on what kind of Arab.. I've got pictures of Kurdish, Moorish, Berber, Bedoin, and Baluchi(**) "tents". (the Kurdish and Baluchi seem to have reed or wicker sidewalls) All of them seem to be made of a rectangular roof, held up by varying systems of supports, and stays, and then separate side walls, and sometimes interior dividers. All of them have to be made from the black belly-hairs of goats. :-) If you'll send me your snail-mail address, I'll mail you my notes, but for now:

The Bedoin tent has 3(*) pair of poles, the center pair being a bit taller, The top end is forked, and stuck through loops attached to the overhead canopy. The canopy extends beyond the poles to the left and right, and stays extend from the ends, so that the canopy has extended eaves. Stays also extend to the front and back, but these seem to be attached to the poles, and go more steeply to the ground. A separate wall-bit is pinned to the underside of the canopy, so that both sides and the back are closed off, and a bit (a yard or two?) extends beyond the canopy to the front, these 'wings' are attached to the guys from the poles.. An interior wall separates the male area from the female area, the female area is usually larger. It isn't in the picture, but from other sources, there may be a third wall/panel for the front, which is flipped up on top of the canopy when not in use. The outer walls are weighted down with rubble. More or fewer pairs of poles, depending on how big the tent is. (**) What's a Baluchi?


From: eddieeffie@aol.com (EddieEffie) I have a small section in the Japanese Miscellany CA on Japanese tents. Typical proportions are 1:2 or 1:3. The tent is rectangular, walls 6' tall, peaked roof. Looks like a roman tent, sorta. The walls are typical for campcurtains.Effingham. Simply write to the SCA stock clerk and ask for a copy of the Complete Anachronist called "A Japanese Miscellany." I'm sorry that I can't recall the number. (I keep wanting to say 65, but...) I'm not sure what the stock clerk charges for a single CA issue.By the way, if you see the film Shogun, or the film Gate of Hell (Jigoku no Mon) you will see pictures of the "akunoya" or great Japanese pavillion.Baron Edward of Effingham, O.Pel. mka Anthony J. Bryant


The question of Roman tents made of something other than leather has come up before, and even archeologists and historians have come up with zilch. No references, no remains. Large pieces of leather tents have been excavated, the writer Pliny tells us how many calf skins it takes to make a tent, and the Latin term for being camped in tents was "sub pellibus"--literally, "under pelts". So the use of leather is proven. Now, linen and other plant fibers do not tend to survive on archeological sites, even if leather and wool have been preserved, so there is really a vacuum of archeological evidence. But for good authenticity, you have to go with the evidence, not just assume that the evidence has disappeared completely. (The arguments that fabric would have been cheaper don't seem to hold up, either.) However, when Roman groups balk at the price of enough leather to make a tent (ours has about a thousand bucks' worth), I tell them to go ahead and make one out of canvas! As long as it's the right size and shape and you tell the audience that real ones were leather, that's good enough for me (and I'm usually a stickler for details!). The only reason our Legio XX has a leather tent is because one of our members had enough money and desire to buy the leather and do the stitching. So if you start producing Roman tents made of canvas, I'll pass the word to any who ask. I can also supply details about dimensions and construction techniques. Our tent is 10 feet square and 5 feet high, with little side walls about a foot high. We use a 2-piece ridgepole with 3 uprights--fits in the car easier than a 10-foot ridgepole. The largest excavated section of tent came from a tent that had higher walls, about 3 feet, with a shallower slope to the roof up to the same 5-foot height. (Naturally the excavator concluded that the low-walled type never existed, so you may have to offer both styles!) Reconstructions of this high-walled type require ridgepoles at the sides as well. If you need more detailed information, just let me know. Good luck, and Vale, Matthew Amt/Quintus Commander, Legio XX mamt@lrcm.usuhs.mil PS--the Armamentarium website has a photo map of a reconstructed high-walled tent with dimensions-- http://www.ncl.ac.uk/~nantiq/arma/ Other photos of ours are on the Nova Roma website, www.novaroma.org

There is no archaeology for Roman military tents made from anything else other than goatskin. We know they used cloth/canvas for sails, amphitheater awnings, etc The best argument in favor of goatskin for military tents is the cheapness and speed at which a goatskin tent can be made as compared to handspinning and handweaving a fiber. Goat is a very common animal bone found in Legionary trash dumps. We at Legio IX use canvas because canvas is cheaper than goat skin. We just wish that we could get it in brown. Sean Richards ,primus pilus,Legio IX Hispana (usa)

I have no direct primary evidence for non-skin tents. There is a translated reference to "living under canvas" in the book The Army of the Caesars. I don't know if this is a good translation or not. Matt Amt of the legio XX says that it is a poor translation and it should read "living under pelts" but I can't verify this as I don't have the latin original. The evidence seems to point to tents being goat skin. The legions ate more goats than they wove canvas. This along with the fact that there are many more leather finds than textile especially the number of known leather tent pieces points to the rank and file at least having all goat skin tents. This does not stop most reenactors from buying canvas tents and I will also probably buy a large "praetorium" canvas tent untill I have my leather one (years from now). Dean <primuspilus@inetarena.com>

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