Jordan - Local Culture

host home in desert talking with guest
Image of Jordanian singer playing the traditional instrument
A Jordanian singer

Tribal nomads, the Bedu proudly trace their lineage back to Ishmael, son of Abraham. They are known for their distinctive tents, which squat low to the ground to withstand stiff desert winds. By mid-morning, the sun is high enough that tent dwellers often have to raise the fabric walls to provide more shade and air circulation. Summer days in the Badia can be as hot as 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Nights are much cooler. Winter temperatures get as low as 40 degrees. Snow is rare, but not unheard of.

Rug inside of Bedu tent
Even in the Bedu tents, you can find lovely rugs which help keep the tent area clean and provide some cushion from the hot soil

Guests are always welcomed in a Bedu tent. No traveler is turned away. Bedu hospitality is legendary and is a matter of honor and pride.

The entire extended family helps prepare for guests. According to tradition, a goat is slaughtered to prepare a feast for the guests. This marks the day as a special occasion, something that occurs only perhaps once a month.

Bread is made on a curved metal pan propped up over a fire in the private or "women's" side of the tent. Here women cook and tend to the children. At night, the family sleeps here.

film crew with host in Bedu tents
All Bedu tents are brightened by colorful quiltwork designs which brighten the barren landscape

On the other side of a fabric wall, is the public space where guests are received, news exchanged, and coffee served.

Normally, Bedu families would live four months a year in their cement block house in a town where the older children attend school. But since the drought of 1991, many Bedu families have lived year-round in their tent so they can cover the distances necessary to find enough pasture for their sheep.

Fresh vegetables and other supplies must come from the village market, often hours away. Fuel from propane tanks is supplemented by the brush that has been collected from the Badia - a process that can take several hours a day.

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