History of Tents

For over five centuries, dating at least back to 100AD, tents have been used for outdoor living. While, not always for such glamorous reasons as ours, tents provided transportable shelter and a place to carry out campaigns whether cultural or militaristic. Initially used for nomadic travel, over the years the tent was used for many other purposes and has remained a primary outdoor shelter to this day.

Ghengis Khan, Chinese warlord, and the Mongolian Nomads provide some of the earliest evidence of tent use in the 1st Century, primarily for shelter as they moved either as nomadic tribes or as military camps.

Around this same time, the Romans were also using tents, again for the military in their conquests and campaigns to spread across the known world. The Romans show the first evidence of “walled tents”. As early as 72AD, there is written records from Octavius making reference for the need of goat skins to repair tents. At this point, tents were made of hides or natural fibers like hemp.

Soon to follow, around 200 AD, the Ottomans show up in a grand way, using tents for cultural or royal ceremonies. The Ottomans would be the first to develop lavish and extravagant tents as the initial purpose was a transportable palace for the Sultan. Silk fabrics, embroidery, expensive rugs and furnishings were all Ottoman contributions. The Mughal Emperor Akbar, is said to have lavishly patronized art during his era, his style was a mixture of Persian and Indian motifs, which gets reflected in the magnificent tents captured by the Ottoman army in the seventeenth century. The Sultan had his court in a huge encampment of hundreds, even thousands of tents, at the center of which was the ‘Tented Palace’ called the ‘Imperial Tent Complex’. The imperial tents were pavilions, walled in by a symbolic rampart of cloth and recognized by their size and the splendor of their decoration, both inside and out.

The Vikings were next to use tent s around the 8th Century and the Europeans just after that. The Europeans fell in love with the Ottoman tents and had adopted the design, although they called it Baroque, not Ottoman. The tented life became contagious across Europe and soon ceremonies of the highest esteem, royal weddings and political meetings were all being held in tents.

Today, the exotic tradition of living under the canvas still arouses romanticism and at Gypsy Faire we embrace that history and plan to keep it going with each and every tent we design and make.