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Bender Heaven

1 INTRODuCTION For the price of a tarpaulin and a few bits of rope anyone can create a bender. The designs are simple and the materials are relatively easy to acquire. Be it the need for somewhere cheap to live that will cope with the elements or just the need to be closer to nature, the bender will accommodate with ease. The origins of the bender are hard to pin down as many indigenous peoples use variations on the theme. Siberian nomads used a structure very similar to current creations using willow rods for the frames with a reindeer skin covering. Mbuti pygmies in the Congo use a bendertype frame from local wood with a covering of Mongongo leaves threaded together on lengths of string. The benders reemergence in the British psyche must derive some of its influence from Kalderash gypsies arriving from Eastern Europe. Before the emergence of horsedrawn wagons several hundred years ago, these people used familysized benders two ridge pole benders attached to a tipi frame for stability for everyday living, employing local wood for construction and tarpaulin for covering much the same as today. Benders with a virtually identical design to that of the Kalderash were also introduced to English travellers in the 1970s, by Scottish tinkers who knew them as barrachs. All over Britain thousands of people already live in bendertype structures, some hidden in shady woodland, others down dusty tracks, many on settled sites, the rest being nomadic, building them wherever they find themselves.
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