Bender Tent

A Traveller’s (sic) Tuesday.  Just a glimpse into life in a bender tent.  Despite the glamorous view of life on the road depicted by the romantic English Gypsy Caravans, this is how most Roma lived in 19th Century Britain.

Ralph_Headley_CharltonGypsies, Camped on the Beach, near South Shields, Ralph Hedley Charlton, painted 1876.

Traveler’s Life

Getting back to our theme of traveler’s, caravans, and other wanderers of the world… a few images from Pascal Dagnan-Bouveret a French Naturalist Painter of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

"Dans la forêt-Musée des beaux-arts de Nancy."

“Dans la forêt-Musée des beaux-arts de Nancy.”

I believe I would enjoy siting around this campfire.

chevaux-a-l-abreuvoir---pascal-dagnan-bouveret

“Chevaux à l’abreuvoir.”

Once a common scene, now virtually lost in an era of loud, fume-belching machinery.

"Gypsy Scene."

“Gypsy Scene.”

A peaceful morning cooking breakfast in the morning dew.  The caravan is obscured by the smoke of the campfire.

Photographer – Nukshi Alice

NukshiAliceFrom her ABOUT Page:  Nukshi is a documentary and portrait photographer and an artist living and working in Nottinghamshire.
Her sensitivity to situations, culture and people, has allowed her to adapt well to new challenges and environments.  She captures her images by getting involved with people, their culture and lifestyle, which motivates her to preserve those times and moments.  Knowledge and empathy with her subjects is the key to her image success, especially when intimate portraits are involved.

With an open mind and a quest to explore extreme situations, places, cultures, people and learn from that interaction. She intend to travel more, in doing so broaden her abilities. Often able to impart new skills to individuals in an exchange for their confidence in her, which has allowed her to bond with them easily.

VardoWhen a friend sent a link to her website I was, of course, immediately interested in the vardo.  Looking beyond the structure, there is wonderful documentation of life on the road.  An exterior wash stand tripod, pragmatic stairs, cooking tripod, and the ubiquitous tea kettle extend the home.

fullinteriorA homey interior, with an eye for beauty is shown in this “typical” vardo.

CookingA rare site where I live.  Nomads and Travellers are not often welcome in the modern world.  I’m glad this couple can live as they wish.

interior

More details are documented on her website.  I picked a few of my favorites for this post.

GeorgeAnd let’s not forget the people who keep this tradition alive.  It’s all well to look at the staged “gypsy” wagons across the web, but it’s important to remember that these are truly home, made complete by their inhabitants.

grinderA way to make a living. I still remember the knife grinder who made his way around the city in St. Louis many years ago.  His was not quite this flashy but had the housewives scurrying out with handfuls of knives and scissors when he came around.  I suspect that’s a rare job in America today.

Many more images from this series and others are viewable on Nukshi’s website.  Have a look and read the little story that accompanies the photos.

Images from “Gipsy Life” by George Coalville

From a book published in 1880 about the Roma and some thoughts on how to “improve” their condition in Britain.  He traces their history in Britain from their first recorded arrival in Scotland in 1514 and is an interesting and somewhat sympathetic read.  Here are some images and a couple snatches of the writing.

bendertentSeveral types and qualities of bender tents are illustrated and show a realistic view of camp life.

smallwaggonmakeshift

“For the dance no music can be better than that of a Gipsy band; there is life and animation in it which carries you away.  If you have danced to it yourself, especially in a czardas, then to hear the stirring tones without involuntarily springing up is, I assert, an absolute impossibility.”  Poor, deluded mortals, I am afraid they will find—

“Nothing but leaves!
Sad memory weaves
No veil to hide the past;
And as we trace our weary way,
Counting each lost and misspent day,
Sadly we find at last,
Nothing but leaves!”

familytentI was for the first ten minutes fully occupied in trying to keep a respectable distance from a number of dogs of all sizes and breeds, which had the usual appetite for fresh meat and tweed trowsering, and, at the same time, endeavouring in vain to find solid ground upon which to stand, for the place at the entrance and all round the tents was one regular mass of deep “slush.”  It soon became known that my p. 228pockets were plentifully supplied with half-ounces of tobacco and sweets.  These I soon disposed off, especially the latter, for there seemed no end to the little bare-footed children that could walk, and those that couldn’t were brought in turn by their sisters or brothers.  I was invited to visit all the tents, but I could gain but little information beyond an account of the severe winter, bad state of trade, your visit in one of the black, dense fogs, &c.

vardowccampfireandpipefancyvardoTo be quite honest, I’m mostly into this one for the images but for those interested, the book can be found online HERE.

Romany Rai

Romano Rai (Romany Rye) (Traditional, English)

I’m a Romano Rai, just an old didikai,
I build all my temples beneath the blue sky,
I live in a tent and I don’t pay no rent,
and that’s why they call me the Romano Rai.

Didi-a-didi-a-didi-di-kai, chavves,
Tika-dika-tika-a-lai

Your Daddus tryin’ to sell a mush a kushto grai.
I’m a Romano rai, just an old didikai,
I live in a mansion beneath the blue sky,
I was born in a ditch, so I won’t ever grow rich,
But that’s why they call me the Romano Rai.

Tikka, tikka, didikai, tikka, tikka, didikai
That’s why they call him the Romano Rai

Tikka-tikka-didikai, tikka tikka, didikai,
That’s why they call him the Romani Rai.

I’m a Romano Rai, a true didikai,
My temple’s a mansion beneath the blue sky,
I’m a Romano Rai, a true didikai,
just campin’ around, on any ol’ ground,

But that’s why they call him the Romano Rai.

 

*Didikai is a term than Romanichal (British) call mixed-blood Romani.