Bedu society

Wilfred Thesiger, in Arabian Sands (1959, p.52), describes the atmosphere among the Bedu in the Empty Quarter of the Arabian Peninsula in the late 1940s in terms which parallel closely the atmosphere depicted of Inuit communities in Atanarjuat:

"Bedu notice everything and forget nothing.  Garrulous by nature, they reminisce endlessly, whiling away with the chatter the long marching hours, and talking late into the night round their campfires.  Their life is at all times desperately hard, and they are merciless critics of those who fall short in patience, good humour, generosity, loyalty or courage.  They make no allowance for the stranger.  Whoever lives with the Bedu must accept Bedu conventions, and conform to Bedu standards.  Only those who have journeyed with them can appreciate the strain of such a life.  These tribesmen are accustomed since birth to the physical hardships of the desert, to drink the scanty, bitter water of the Sands, to eat gritty unleavened bread, to endure the maddening irritation of driven sand, intense cold, heat, and blinding glare in a land without shade or cloud.  But more wearing still is the nervous tension. I was to learn how hard it is to live crowded together with people of another faith, speech and culture in the solitude of the desert, how easy to be provoked to senseless wrath by the importunities and improvidence."

Sir Wilfred Thesiger died in late August 2003, aged 93.

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