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The Date Palm

The relationship of the bedu with their palm trees is as important as that between man and his camel. Even though both date palm and dromedary cannot be considered to be truly wild now, it was the bedu that tamed both and put them to good use for his daily life. Whereas the camel provided housing, clothing and useful objects (besides meat and milk) to the bedu of the desert; the palm tree did almost the same for the bedu of the plantations in the oases and along the coast. Palm tree trunks supported the roofs of the lovely mudbrick castles and towers. The ribs of the palm leaves were used to weave the walls of the huts or to provide the floating bulk of the interesting small fishing boats, called shasha. The garghour or domed fishing traps were also made from these palm leaf ribs before the advent of nylon and plastic. Dried palm leaves were tied together to make barusti, which was (and is) used for a multitude of purposes: shades, roofs, separating walls, and making enclosures. The fibre on the tree trunk was collected and used to make rope or to weave baskets, mats and the typical pyramid-shaped covers that protect food from flies.

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