Tent of Carlos V

In May 2006, I made a special coordinated visit to the Spanish Army museum (Museo del Ejercito) in Madrid, Spain.

The tent was fascinating, and may be the first hard evidence of a spoke design.  The museum lists the tent as belonging to Carlos V, which it did, but according to Marianne Perdomo, it originally belonged to the Portuguese Admiral Martin Afonso de Sousa .

The tent is dated 1542-1545, when Admiral Sousa was governor of the Portuguese colony in India. It would have been made in muslim India but they say that similar techniques were used in 15th and 16th Iberia. Sousa's arms are on the entrance awning and Charles V would have added the eagle on top when he later received it as a present.

The furniture inside is of a later, non-specified, date.

[NOTE: the center pole is modern, and the museum staff could tell me nothing about how they thought it would have originally been set up.  The tent had museum lights in it, and we were not allowed to use a flash.  I was allowed to use a flashlight so some pictures are more in focus than others.  ]


The tent had two walls, and interior and an exterior.  The fascinating thing for me was the discovery of slits around the interior of the eave, about every 18-24 inches.  Looking closely at the slits, the slits themselves weren't remarkable, but sewn on the inside of the outer wall, at the bottom of each slit was a fancy leather patch.  We looked and looked for something that might hold a perimeter pole in place, but no luck.  We determined that based on the location of the patch (low in the opening) and without a grommet to slide a spike through, any perimeter poles would slip off the tip of the patch and slide up in between the two walls.   Based on the location and shape of the patch, it appears to me that the slit supports a spoke and the leather patch provided the solid surface for the spoke to push on, preventing the spoke from pushing directly on the fabric of the outer wall. 

If anyone has a different thought about the purpose and function of the slits and leather patches, please feel free to send them to me.  I would love to have a discussion about this.  ( terafan AT greydragon DOT org )

Please CLICK ON THE THUMBNAIL to see the larger pictures. The number in ( ) tells the size of the large picture.

The tent as set up in the museum.  (101kb)


Lots of fancy detail on the interior.  Here, you can see three slits in the "pink" horizontal stripe above the beige. 
If you enlarge the picture to full size, you can also see regular "little stitch circles" along the bottom of the pink stripe, where the inner walls was stitched to the outer wall so that it wouldn't shift and twist.  (510kb)


Although the centerpole is not original, I thought the candle ring was pretty neat (although it may not work as well with spokes in place) (506kb)
One of the doorways, again showing three of the slits around the eaves. (401kb) This wider interior shot shows six  of the slits, and you can see how regular and consistent in placement they were. (450kb) The interior of the peak.  The pole and support is modern.  I wasn't smart enough during my visit to ask whether the white is a modern repair or whether it is original. (358kb)


A close up of an open slit, where you can just see the leather patch on the inside of the outer wall. You can see two of the little stitch circles in this picture.  (316kb)


Another shot, slightly different light angle, of the same slit. (242kb) Another slit, showing the leather patch and the stitch circles. (345kb)
A different angle on the second slit. (331kb) A better lit and more detailed view of the leather patch.  You can see that the bulk of the patch is down low in the bottom of the slit (where the spoke would be resting).  (351kb)


The second slit, along with more of the fancy decorations along the inside of the inner wall. (464kb)
The center pole and fancy base they created for it.  (351kb) The decoration on the interior of the roof, along with a number of the slits. (482kb)


Another shot of the other side of the roof, again showing more of the slits. (468kb)
A wider view of the near entrance side. (449kb) A wider view of the far entrance side. (476kb) A wider view of the non-bed side of the tent. (450kb)
(482kb) The design pattern on the walls. (487kb) The museum arranged a special hole in the ceiling so they could set the tent up. (402kb)

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