What means Bedouin?
You probably live in a house or an apartment but can you imagine how different life would be if you lived in a tent in the hot desert? For a start, you would live with your parents, siblings and probably your grandparents and every so often, you would pack up your stuff and travel across the sand dunes to set up home elsewhere!
The Bedouin tribes live in the vast deserts of Arabia and North Africa. Whilst others settled near rivers and coasts, the Bedouin preferred to continue desert life, herding camels, goats and cattle which provided them with wool, milk, cheese and meat. There are far fewer Bedouin now than in previous times, but they remain highly respected within their cultures, for their skills in animal herding and poetry and their values of honor, bravery, loyalty and hospitality.
Life of a Bedouin
Bedouin women care for the children and home, cook and weave — and even make the tents! The thick woven goat hair helps homes stay waterproof in winter and cool in summer. Bedouin men look after the larger animals and gather over coffee or mint tea to discuss the tribe’s affairs.
Family is very important to the Bedouin and the hearth is the heart of a Bedouin home. Fresh bread is made daily and meals are often vegetables and rice in a rich sauce, with sweet dates as a snack. Bedouin people enjoy singing and music and on special occasions, organising a camel race!
Bedouins practice Islam and though there are no mosques in the desert, will always pray toward the city of Mecca. To be respectful to God, Muslims wash their hands before prayer but when water is scarce, the Bedouin wash their hands with sand.
Bedouin men and sometimes boys, wear long robes with a head-covering and the men carry a dagger. Bedouin girls and ladies may wear long, bright colored dresses with jewellery but often these are covered with a black gown when they go outside. Ladies cover their hair and sometimes their faces and older ladies may wear a decorative, mask called a burqa’ah.
Did you know?
The Bedouin code of hospitality is so important that a host must even house and protect his enemy, should they come calling!
By Deborah L. Caine (Whyzz writer)