Habitats nomades

Denis Couchaux

We are so used to living in our buildings with security codes and central heating that we have forgotten that a good part of Humanity was content for a long time to have flexible structures that could easily be dismounted and transported. Nomadic people have not totally disappeared– in Mongolia, the yurt is still very used and the Sami in Siberia are still happy with their conic tents with a framework. But the elegant iconography – photos in black and white in large grain, sketches by explorers – reminds us this mode of living is (temporarily?) endangered. From the Patagonians to the Inuit, from the Bushmen to the Tungusians, including the Gypsies, this world tour is very well documented. It is both a precise ethnographic study – why do the Ostyak turn off the fire at night when the temperature is –40°C? How should one orient one’s feet when invited into a yurt? – and a remarkable technical manual: how does one choose stacked snow to make an igloo? How do the Samoyeds peel off the bark of the birch tree for cladding? When dismounting a Bedouin tent, does one first take out the pegs or the canvas? The result is rather surprising. Even though modern man is incapable of changing a light bulb, most start dreaming of another type of life …

Habitats nomades by Denis Couchaux, Alternatives publishing house, 2011, 192 p., 39 €

Habitats nomades - Denis Couchaux

Review published in the newsletter #215 - from 5 May 2011 to 11 May 2011

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