The Goat

Traditionally Bedouin tents were made from goat hair. Not only is it a strong fibre, it also swells when it becomes wet and therefore provides a water-resistant cover in rain. Here’s a close-up of the fabric of the Bedouin tent we have at the Cobb Institute of Archaeology, Mississippi. Goat hair was also used to weave mantels.

The goat common in Palestine is the black Capra mambrica. It is this characteristic black color which gives rise to the praise of the beloved in Song of Songs (SS4:1): “Your hair is like a flock of goats descending from Mount Gilead.” The goats have long, hanging ears and the sizeable horns of the billy goats are noticeable. Peasants in Palestine did not regard the character of goats highly—they are definitely less placid than sheep. But this also means that they are more likely to fight predators.
In comparison to a sheep, a goat produces approximately half the weight in wool and twice the amount of milk. A milking season of seven to eight months was common, producing approximately 75 liters per goat in that time. Because goats were especially kept for milk, male kids were often butchered quite young, when they were also regarded as more tasty. The hides of goats were also often used to make hoses, or other leather goods.

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2 Responses to The Goat

  1. Paul Lewis says:

    Any idea where I could get a sample of black goat wool material?

    • Tim Frank says:

      I’m not sure where you are located. You could try Lakiya Negev Bedouin Weaving, just north of Beersheba, Israel. It seems their new website is Agricultural regulations may make it difficult to bring the products into another country, though.

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