THE SHENDAR HOUSING

TENT CONSTRUCTION - SECTIONS OF THE SHENDAR DOME - INTERIOR
OPENINGS AND DOORS - ORNAMENTATIONS

The Shendar are a desert tribe who live in the south of the Sarvonian continent. Having a nomadic way of living most use the tent, called the "Shendar Dome", as basic housing form, although there are also some who have settled down and live in houses made out of clay in Uderza and nearby villages (see there).

View picture in full size Picture description. A Shendar dome in the midst of the Rahaz-Dath. Image drawn by Talia.

Tent Construction. The nomadic Shendar live in tents which have the most economic form to cover the most free space with the least material to cover this space - the half sphere: A big central tent, called the "dome", is surrounded and attached by several smaller ones. Every smaller tent has an access to the central big one, only the family quarters are connected to each other. The main tent has seven peds in diameter (see mystics of the numbers below). Very few families have only this single tent, but it is not very common. Most families try to live in the extended and more comfortable form with the smaller tents attached. To make this possible two or three young families live together in one tent, preferably with relatives. Most of the tents are inherited and due to the scarce, very valuable and quite difficult to come by raw materials new ones are very seldom. The central tents seem huge, too huge maybe for the unknowing eye, but their advantage of this construction is that they hold enough air to survive in a day long sandstorm, and even if the outer parts are all covered with sand, the main dome will show through the sand.

How the single smaller tents are used depends on how many of the big tents are attached to each other (three or six, five are an exception) and on the special tradition of the single tribe. In which direction the openings/doors of the tents show varies with the number of the tents in a circle. While the three tents are standing in a circle with the main entrances showing to the outside, the other forms have their main entrance showing to the middle of the circle to an area used as sampling place.

The ground structure are bones of different animals. Rumours say that there are some old tents in the deepest desert which are held with the help of the „bones“ of the blood worm. Either theses are just rumours or it is a hint that in former times the blood worms inhabited the Rahaz Dath as well as the Desert of Light now, but are extinct by now. Some old tales traded from generation to generation support this theory, but it might never be confirmed. More often are used the“ bones“ of the Rahaz-Estar, the Giant Rock Snake, though these have to be bend together to meet the needed diameter and height, especially of the central tent. Here as well we have only speculations how this is done. Some say the Shendar use the spit of the snake itself to clue the bones together, but who knows? Who can reveal a secret the Shendar want to keep for themselves? Sometimes the roots of a plant are used, roots, which grow at the edge of the desert or near an oasis. Above the ground you find only unsuspicious greenish leaves, but they are supported by an immense systems of roots which may stretch about several thousands peds. These roots are very light, but very hard and indestructible at the same time.

The Shendar Dome

Now to the material which covers the ground structure: Again the Shendar rely only on what they find in the desert, and that is again mainly the Giant Rock Snake. Its skin is stretched and prepared to make the thinnest, lightest and most durable material you can find. It is split up. The outer, the sun reflecting layer of the skin is used for the protection against the sand storms and covers the whole structure, giving the tents a silvery-golden shimmer. When finished the outside is processed further on, impregnated with a secret mixture of liquids of different origins so it is quite impenetrable for knives or other blades now, in fact it is the same material the Shendar are using for their armours. The inner skin is fixed to the structure from the inner side, this way providing a double hull which holds most of the heat of the desert outside. Near the top of each of the central tents are areas which are translucent. It is said that they are made out of the gall bladder or other inward skins a Giant Rock Snake may have. On top these skins are prepared with the poison of the crystal spider. This makes the material semipermeable and allows therefore air exchange and the smoke of the central cooking fire to evade. These "windows" are this durable that they don't need a cover if a sandstorm arises, and the bigger these openings are, the wealthier the Shendar family usually is. Return to the top

Sections of the Shendar Dome. If a visitor is lucky enough to be invited into a Shendar dome he/she will be led through one of the two low doors formed by three very small tents. Next to this entrance is access on the left side to the tent where the weapons and gear needed for the animals are stored, on the right side is the storage tent for the food. Both tents are accessible from the dome as well. - But probably a visitor won't be allowed to have a look into it. The other tents have different functions depending on how many of the domes are connected to each other.

In a single dome you will find the tent reserved for holy things - or a guest - next to the food storage, on the other side next to the weapons tent is the mil'no tent, there is a kind of toilet - for it is not a good idea to go outside in the night - and other equipment for cleaning, caring and tending of humans, animals and equipment. The remaining tents are the family quarters. Only some of the family tents are connected with each other, all others have a single opening to the dome. Because there is no connection to other domes needed, there is more space available for the families and therefore most times three small ones are living in it.

If three domes are connected, the tents facing the middle are the ones reserved for holy things and guests, the function of the hygienic - mil'no - tent is transferred to the middle of the three domes with access from each of the two connected tents. This is considered as a privilege for the guest regarding the short way to the mil'no area, though he might be disturbed through some noises. The remaining four small tents house normally two families.

Ensemble of Three Attached Domes

If possible, the Shendar form a circle with six domes. There are two small tents opposing each other and connected to two domes (see below) which are the entrance to the common place formed by the six domes. The entrances of the domes show all to this main place. The guest tent and the mil'no tent are now next to the connection tents, in which are stored different things to avoid the waste of space. If there are not enough family tents left, sometimes the three directly connected tents share the mil'no tent to allow more room for people.

Ensemble of Six Attached Shendar Domes

How the family tents are shared depends on the sub tribe, sometimes women and men sleep in different tents, sometimes the parents share a tent with the small children, where the older children have an extra place to sleep as well as all older people, parents or other relatives living in this dome. Return to the top

Interior. The interior of the domes and attached small tents is held quite simple, but comfortable. The soil or sand in the dome and the storage tents are covered with mats woven out of the alth'ho grass found on the Narfost Plains which are visited in regular intervals or out of the more durable Chi'itplant, found near salty water like in the bay of Uderza the bay northwest of Thalamabath and the great salt lakes of the central Rahaz Dath. Though the favourite colour of all Shendar is the Uderza blue, the mats are mainly of the yellow of the dry alth'ho grass, ranging in intensity from a light yellow to a dark orange. The Chi'it however is dyed to a deep blue and woven together with the alth'ho grass the Shendar produce complicated ornaments. The alth'ho grass is harvested when it has the desired colour and remains so for a few years. When it turns brown or black the mats are thrown away. The floors of the family quarters however are laid out with carpets woven out of the wool of the aka'Pi (smaller, less intelligent relative of the aj'nuvic), ranging in colour from a light white to a warm brown. Here as well a small part of the wool is dyed with Uderza blue and the yellow of the alth'tiert found at the Orong'Sorno Volcano and woven into the carpet, often formed to show the Giant Rock Snake, the Raház'Estár, though in the tents where mainly children sleep aj'nuvics, dune mice, fire drells or other desert animals and strangly for desert people the howler goose or banded ricau as ornaments are prefered.

The small tents of the entrances are the only ones not formed as a halfsphere, but they have been extended in height up the attached tents to allow more comfortable moves out and in, though it is not possible to do this going upright.
Return to the top

Openings and Doors. These outer doors can be sealed with the same material used for the outer dome hull, but normally are open. The inner openings to the various smaller tents and between the tents are covered with curtains out of the fruit hull of the toccon tree (producing cotton and a nutlike fruit) and are the most colourful in the dome next to the yellow blue mats, dyed with their own blue or yellow, but nowadays more and more with imported colour such as a light green, the red colour from the small Dar'ii tree and carroot. The darker green however they use are from mixing Uderza blue with the yellow of the alth'tiert.
Return to the top

Ornamentations. Each curtain has its own ornament, showing what kind of tent it hides. Children prefer motives like desert animals or flowers, the weapons tent shows a rock snake, the food storage tent mainly roots, fruits and sometimes even plants the Shendar only know from very rare visits of the Sharadon forest, the mil'no tent shows the mil'no plant, the guest tent however is only white. Finally the main family tent is ornamented with the flowers of the Dar'ii tree which small yellow and orange flowers are so similar in appearence to the form the Shendar tents and domes have.

The inner skin of the dome and the small tents are ornamented as well, but only sparely because it is difficult to apply colour onto the snake's inner skin. The more colour is found on these inner walls, the older is the dome. In the middle of the dome is a fireplace where the cooking and eating takes place, near the family quarters are often found a weaving device or the equipment for fine metal work, though these things are done in the open air as well if the weather allows it.
Return to the top

Information provided by Talia Sturmwind View Profile