Monday, April 8, 2013

2013 Truth or a lie #1


Figure from Felt Tents and Pavilions by Dr. Peter Andrews. The bottom one is the combo tent and wagon mentioned below. Kerch, circa 600 BC.

  Khan Mundzuk of Horde Ernak told me about this amazing book on steppe nomad housing by Dr. Peter Andrews called Felt Tents and Pavilions. It's expensive, so getting it via library loan is the way to go unless you can afford to splurge. If you want to make your own tent, cart, wagon, or what-have-you, it's definitely a must-have. Most of the book discusses Altaic nomad housing because more is known about it, but there's an entire chapter on Iranian nomads.
Fresco of a Sarmatian tent from Kerch, 1st century AD, figure from Andrews (1999).
  A lot of what we know about Iranian tent-wagons comes from children's toys. It seems toy wagons were all the rage among barbarian kids. :) The toys are quite detailed and really comparable to the actual things as evidenced by wall paintings of the same types of dwellings. The tent on the bottom wagon above could be taken down and set on the ground whenever the Sarmatians found a place they wanted to camp (and Scythians; the toys above are probably Scythian based on the time and place, but identical to Sarmatian toys).
  The complicated toys he referenced actually have removable tents, so this isn't just an imaginative flight of fancy. It seems weird to not choose to stay off the ground. The only reason I can come up with for making a tent removable is that they could be increased in volume after removing them from the wagon. Maybe the frame had different joints on it- while traveling, the joints creating a smaller internal diameter could be used, and upon arrival at a camp site, the base of the tent could be expanded by using the outer joints?
Also from Andrews (1999). Possible construction of tents.
  Not all Sarmatian and Scythian dwellings were like this. The top two toys above came from the same place and time as the wagon with a removable tent. The middle one kind of reminds me of the little stand-alone storage compartments motorcycles can pull. Another type of Sarmatian dwelling is shown in the fresco above from the same place in the 1st century AD. The type of dwelling an individual had probably depended on wealth, availability of materials, and how much space was needed.

Andrews, P., 1999, Felt Tents and Pavilions, Melisende UK Ltd., 1632 pp.


  1. From the reading I've done on gers and yurts, they can withstand blizzards. My guess is putting your tent on a wagon is good for moving it, but not so good for not getting blown away in a high wind?

    1. Sorry it's taken me so long to reply to your comments! For some reason my e-mail thought it was spam and I haven't manually checked comments on here in a while.

      I'm inclined to agree with you. :)

    2. No problem re long reply times -- I know how that goes. It's a shame your site doesn't have the option for someone to ask to be notified when someone adds to a thread they've commented on, though. I know I'd certainly find that helpful, in that I now can't recall where I commented here, and I'd love to see your thoughts on my thoughts. :)

      Also, though I'm no longer in the SCA, you are starting to inspire me to try crafting for my persona again; thanks! I'll have to post what I do, if I get a chance to. :)

    3. I'd like to be able to do that too! But so far as I've been able to tell, Blogger doesn't have an option for that, which just seems silly.
      Yay! :) That would be great. I'd love to be able to show off steppe stuff other people have done.

    4. Ahah! Looks like it's on the person who wants the notification to adjust their settings. Unfortunately, it's on a post-by-post basis, so you can't just say "give me all the email notifications!" The option to "subscribe by e-mail" should be to the bottom right of the comment box on each post.

    5. Hello Arite!
      My opinion on the tents being removed from the wagons is a little different. Most of the steppe nomad peoples did not constantly wander but moved their camps with the seasons. (It would be foolish to wander aimlessly with so much livestock. They need food, water, etc.) When I was in Mongolia I noticed that the nomads' wagons were being used daily for many different purposes. Once their camp was set up, their wagons were used to haul water and other items being gathered. When the day came that they needed to move camp, their tents were again packed onto the wagons. Perhaps the Sarmatians did the same. The fact that their tent frames were woven into a solid piece would make the process of setting up camp and breaking camp much faster.
      -Khan Mudzuk

  2. Thank you for the notification info! Hmm... although, browsing around, it looks like that works only if you have a Google account, darnit. Well, thank you regardless for trying. :)