Italo Calvino once wrote,“each city receives its form from the desert it opposes”. So does each Bedouin encampment shape itself around a minuscule curve of sand for a short time, everything raked together around it, for the kind of home you can pack up whenever you want. The tent. Nothing is permanent in the desert.
The tent is a symbol not just of wayfaring, but of hospitality. Any guest is sacred when he reaches this woven shelter. Hospitality is part of a strict honor code, which requires the Bedouin to protect strangers from the dangers of the environment. You will be asked only two questions: Where were you before, and what are you running from? Count on being hosted for three days and three parts of the fourth.
Women have their own tents -smaller, at an average of four meters long- while Bedouin men rest, talk and entertain in a main tent of up to 12 meters. Bones adorn the main tent as hunting trophies, the legacies of future generations. Separation of the sexes varies from tribe to tribe, but often, women are not considered fit even to look after the camels, a prestigious species. Women may, however, tend to sheep.
Other tools: A stark fence may define one clan's temporary territory, and a stone marks settlements between the dunes. Bedouin clansmen carry a curved knife, and their warm clothes invite the sun, fighting heat with heat.
Photography: Michela A. G. Iaccarino
Lettering: Gastón Lisak