Pre 17th Century Tents

An image depicting a Christian and a Muslim playing chess, circa 1251-1283.
Image from:

For as long as humans have been around, they have sought shelter from the elements. Whether with hide or canvas or even wool or hair, eople created spaces that were portable and protective. As time passed it seems more and more decoration appeared on these living spaces.

Below you will find links to artwork, patterns, general information and more from the earliest known tents all the way to the 17th Century.

The Links:

The Leonfeldner Schnittbuch – 16th century German pattern book including tents

Sectional Tent Poles in 13th Century Spain and 16th Century Milan

Surviving Medieval Pictures of Tents and Pavilions

Table of Medieval and Renaissance Tent Pictures

The SHŌGUN Tent Guide – includes a how to guide

16th Century Spanish Tents – Sleeping Quarters on the Coronado Expedition

The History of Tents By Stephen Francis Wyley

Tent Pictures of House Greydragon

Turkish Cultural Foundation – OTAG-I HUMAYUN

Medieval Pavilion Resources

Craft Tutorials – Medieval Pavillion

Building a Conjecturally Period Pavilion – Cariadoc

Stefan’s Florilegium – tents

Making a Medieval Single-Pole Pavilion

9th Century Pup Tent

An Early Medieval Tent based on Period Manuscript Illustrations.

Tentorium – Iconography – Images of period tents broken down by century

Tents in Roman Camp

A Contubernium Tent

Warm and dry: a complete Roman tent from Vindolanda

The Roman Army in Detail: The Contubernium — tent-party or barrack room?

Comitatus – Research and Reconstruction – The Soldier’s Ridge Tent

Imperium Romana– Roman Tents

Floral Tent Panel – Date: ca. 1635 – Metropolitan Museum

Mughal Shahi Lal Dera Tent

Spring-cleaning India’s most magnificent tent – BBC news

Conquest & Alliance: The Lal Dera (Red Tent) of “Peacock in the Desert”

Tents – Something Important Must Be Happening

The Mongolian Tent in the Ilkhanid Period

The Battle with the Sagittary and the Conference at Achilles’ Tent (from Scenes from the Story of the Trojan War) – Tapestry – Metropolitan Museum

moveable Palaces

Ice Age Tents

Central Asian Kibitki


The Tarp Tipi: A Modern Take on a Classic Shelter Design – Some ideas for building your own structure

An Investigation of Sami Building Structures

Category:Traditional Sami constructions – images as well as links to other Wikis

The Goat Hair Tent of the Nomads – The Ancient Hebrew Research Center

Setting Up Pavilions and Tents – Larsdatter

Deborah and Steve’s Plausibly Medieval Pavilions – an SCA site with practical knowledge for building and using a medieval tent

Medieval and Renaissance Pavilions – class handout from Philippa Montague

Medieval camping adventures – Handcrafted History Blog

Viking tents – Foteviken Museum is an archaeological open air museum that conveys how life might have been in a town during the late Viking Age – early Middle Ages.

Tents & Work Shelters – The Viking Age Compendium

A Reproduction of the Smaller Tent from the Viking Age Ship Burial at Oseberg – Matthew Marino

Old Norse Tents

Geteld Stuff: Anglo-Saxon tents

On mayking of a symple Pavylion fore the ladyes whereby they maye vew thereby the tourney.

Information on authentic Medieval Pavilions from House Greydragon – Here are some photos of an existing pavillion that is on display at the Historical Museum (Barfüsserkirche) in Basel, Switzerland. 17th Century but there likely wasn’t many changes made in the century leading up to the making of this tent.

KHYAMIYA – – tent wall and canopy images

Appliques From The Street Of The Tentmakers Cairo Egypt – has historical examples, how to create you own and the full exhibit online

Fatimid Manuscript Illumination with Depiction of a Court Scene

Hegira 11th century Ottoman tent – This tent belongs to the type of double-columned, rectangular tents with an oval floor plan

Met Museum – Alexander in His Tent (?) 1602-1630 – artwork

Met Museum – Mahakala Panjaranatha (Protector of the Tent) -Tibet, late 14th–early 15th century – artwork

Met Museum – Velvet Panel with Hunting Scene ca. 1540 – This polylobed velvet panel is from the interior of a tent used by Kara Mustapha Pasha, an Ottoman military leader

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