The New Student's Reference Work/Bedouins
Bedouins (bĕd′o͝o-ĭnz), meaning “dwellers in the desert,” are Arabs who lead a wandering life. While the desert of Arabia is their central place of abode, they have spread themselves over many countries, and are now to be found from the western boundary of Persia to the Atlantic and from the mountains of Kurdistan to the negro countries of Sudan. In a few regions they have mixed with other nations; but as a rule they have kept their separate character and independence. They now form a seventh of the population of Arabia. They have seldom acted as a united people in the world's politics. They are herdsmen and generally robbers, and recognize little law except tribal custom. One or more families form the core of a tribe, a kind of aristocracy, and from their number a superior sheikh is chosen to lead them and to judge between those engaged in disputes, if they choose to come to him. They manufacture their own woolen clothes, and their food is mainly obtained from their herds, though they also eat rice, honey, locusts and even lizards. Certain tribes, however, live in houses and practice agriculture.