Caravans, Covers and Containers
Until relatively recently, millions of people in Eurasia and Africa have followed a nomadic way of life, which requires a certain level of material wealth and a high level of organization. It has nothing to do with vagrancy or simply wandering about. Its basis is the breeding of livestock and their movement between sets of terrain not usable at all times of the year (typically a winter and a summer pasture). Numerous forms of portable and temporary housing are utilized by nomads; most common in the Near East are the wooden-framed tent covered with felt, and the tent constructed from sheets of black goat-hair supported by poles and ropes.
With the nomadic life comes the need for transporting belongings, and it is a matter of observation that the people who make the necessary containers, almost invariably women, like to use their skills to combine beauty with function. Such items are often extremely attractive, and it is here and on the numerous types of horse cover used throughout the Near East that many carpet and textile collectors have focused their interest.