From our Blog
  • 23.06.2012

Human Shelters (I love Wikipedia!)

I was trawling the web the other day looking at what’s going on in the World of Glamping and found a facebook interest page dedicated to bell tents. This gave a description (from Wikipedia) of the bell tent as a “human shelter for inhabiting, travelling or leisure”. It went on to explain the tents structure, history and beginnings. But at the bottom of the page was a list of further human habitation forms; Yurt, Tipi, Wigwam etc.

The structure to the left is Wigwam, right?

Wrong. It’s a Tipi.

Now growing up as a little lad in Yorkshire I played Cowboys and Indians, like most of you probably will have done at some point. I’m sure we always got told by TV, teacher’s, Grandparent’s et al, that the conical, buffalo skin covered dwelling we see here is a wigwam. The “wigwam” is actually a domed structure.

So I thought I’d use this opportunity to give you a little education (wiki style) on a few different types of mobile human habitation.

Well we now know that the picture above is that of a Tipi (also tepee and teepee) which is a Lakota name for a conical tent traditionally made of animal skins and wooden poles. They’re typically associated with nomadic tribes and Native Americans (when hunting) of the Great Plains. The tipi was durable, provided warmth and comfort in winter, was dry during heavy rains, and was cool in the heat of summer. Tipis could be disassembled and packed away quickly when a tribe decided to move and could be reconstructed quickly when the tribe settled in a new area.

So what’s a wigwam then? A wigwam (or wickiup) is a domed room dwelling used by certain Native American tribes that are more permanent. The curved surfaces make it an ideal shelter for all kinds of conditions.

These structures are formed with a frame of arched poles, most often wooden, which are covered with some sort of roofing material, including grass, brush, bark, rushes, mats, reeds, hides or cloth.

Near identical constructions are used by today’s nomadic Somali People as well as the Afar People on the Horn of Africa. They are not called wikiup but Aqal.

Alongside the bell tent, the other most popular glamping accommodation is probably the yurt. This is a portable, bent wood-framed dwelling structure traditionally used by Turkic nomads in the steppes of Central Asia. There are indications that they’ve been in use since at least the 13th century. The stucture you’ll mainly see at many glamping sites throughout the UK is actually the similar Mongolic nomadic structure the “ger”.

Wrongly referred to by westerners as a yurt, the ger differs in that the heavier roof wheel (toono) is supported on posts and the roof ribs are straight rather than bending down at the wall junction. The wall lattice of a ger is constructed of straight pieces as opposed to the yurt’s curved lattice.

You learn something everday.

(All images and info from Wikipedia)

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