The Bedouin, in Arabic ‘Bedu’, live in the desert and have learned to survive its sometimes unbearable climate. It is difficult to count Bedouins, but it is generally known that the majority of Jordan’s population is of Bedouin origin.
Only a small part of Bedouin can still be seen as true nomads, still living the traditional Bedouin lifestyle. These Bedouin are living in black tents made out of goat or camel hair, with their animals across the desert. They camp in one place for a few months, grazing their herds of goats, sheep or camels, until it is time to move on to another place.
These days the only modernity they have accepted is a pick-up truck to move their animals for long distances, heavy water containers. The other part of the Bedouin has settled down in Rum village in simple concrete houses, however they still maintain goat herds for milk, meat and ‘jameed’, a type of yoghurt. Most of the villagers work with the tourist these days.
Telling stories is an important part of the Bedouin culture. When being invited by the Bedouin in tents for tea or resting in the shadow, you will enjoy their picnics, their Bedouin tea parties, their Bedouin traditional dances and singing. Bedouins are not wealthy people, but their tradition of hospitality obliges them to take care of their guests with all they have.
The Bedouin tents ‘Bait al Sha’er’ (house of hair) are made of the hair of goats and divided into two sections by a woven curtain known as a ma’nad. One section, reserved for the men and for most guests, is called the mag’ad (sitting place). The other section, for cooking and receive female guests, is called the maharama (place of the women).
Bedouin men wear ‘dishdasha’, which is a kind of dress. The dishdasha is made of light material and is traditionally white, however, gray, brown, black and dark blue are also worn by many Bedouin. A ‘serwal’ is worn under the Thoab. The Serwal is white trousers that are tight at the ankle. On their heads, Bedouin men wear the Koufeyah, which is the famous traditional headdress of Arabs.
Women wear the ‘madraga’, a long black dress. The Madraga is usually embroidered on the chest and sleeves. Bedouin women must cover their heads and for that they were the ‘usaba’, a hair band wrapped around the head and tied at the back.
Bedouin Coffee (Qahweh sad-dah)
Coffee drinking is an essential element of social Bedouin life. When a guest arrives he is offered three cups:
- The 1st cup is the Cup of the Guest (Arabic: Fonjan Al Thaif). This cup honors the arrival of the guest.
- The 2nd cup is the Cup of the Sword (Arabic: Fonjan Al Saif): This cup honors the bravery of Bedouin men.
- The 3rd cup is the Mood Cup (Arabic: Fonjan Al Kaif): This cup is a sign of good mood.
Bedouins have their own special blends of teas that they make from the dried leaves of various desert plants. On special occasions, they mix the leaves from those plants with other spices. Many tourists have tea with the Bedouins they meet and then buy the blends to take home as a reminder of their amazing experiences.
How to make Bedouin Tea at home.
Famous Bedouin food
Mansaf, meat on a bed of rice, is the most famous dish in Jordan. Especially Bedouins, serve Mansaf as gesture of hospitality and honor. Mansaf is served on a very large dish and eaten collectively. Bedouin use their right hand, because eating with your left hand is considered as impolite. How to make Mansaf
More info about Bedouin people: Facts and details Bedouin