About a month ago, I needed a new bed. I was amazed at how expensive most new beds can be, even the matress itself can be expensive. I began to look around for alternatives. In the past I have made bed frames and they worked out great. however I wanted something more portable that could be put away when not in use. I began to look on the internet and I found many interesting cots. One of the cots I found was called a charpoy. It is a traditional Indian bed with a woven sleeping surface. For those of you who have seen my other blog on candy wrapper purses you might guess that I like woven things. I also like trying to figure out how things are made. That is how I figured out how to make a candy wrapper purse. Now I find that there are no real instructions that I can find for making a charpoy........I am pumped! I am ready to try to figure out how to make a charpoy. Maybe some of you can help me search for information. I was able to find a charpoy here in Atlanta at Patel Brothers. I purchased one and have been enjoying it for about a month. My charpoy has a strong metal frame with legs that fold. the sleeping surface is woven from a natural fiber rope. Please click the link above for info on the Patel Brothers. I was able to purchase my charpoy for less than 150.00$



The Frame



The first thing we will look at is how to make a charpoy frame . Classically the charpoy was made out of very strong wood from particular kinds of trees. Quite often the the legs were carved and were decorative. The 8 elements for the frame were put together using mortise and tenon joints. I will add more info here on the mortise and tenon joint. You can go on Youtube and type in mortise and tenon joint and some videos of the joint being made should come up. The mortise and tenon joint is very popular in furniture making because it is a very strong joint. In searching for information on how to make the frame I tried looking under rope beds and boy did I come up with very some interesting stuff. It seems that a kind of rope bed was very popular in the USA and in Europe in the 1800s ( going back to the medieval period). The 3rd picture below shows this kind of rope bed. This kind of rope bed was used with a mattress. and the rope went thru holes in the side of the bed. The bed rope was tightened with a large key type of object. While looking under rope bed I ran into a link for period rope bed. When I went to the site I was amazed because the the kind of beds shown there were very similar to the charpoy. The beds have a woven surface that is slept on directly. At the bottom you will see the rope tightening apparatus similar to the one seen on the charpoy. The gentleman got the idea not from India but from an old picture of a medieval man carrying what looks like a woven rope bed on his back ( see the picture below) I feel that this is an important website if you are interested in buliding a charpoy frame. On the site you will find info on building a basic rope bed. As part of the tightening apparatus he uses a dowel to wrap the ropes around. In the charpoy they would use rope wrapped around the side poles many times as the support for the tightening rope and the top of the woven area. The top surface of the bed is woven with a slightly different weave than seen on the charpoy the rope is wrapped around the frame one time. In the classic charpoy the rope would be wrapped around the frame 3 to 6 times making the weave much stronger. If you use the instructions to make the basic frame and change the 2 things I mentioned you should have a basic charpoy.





The weave





The frame gives the charpoy strength and the woven top surface also adds to the strength of the charpoy. This is the part I have found most difficult to figure out. The traditional charpoy is woven with a diagonal weave. I have found 3 sources on the internet to give you an idea of what is involved. Here is a Youtube video that shows a man weaving a charpoy.













If you look at all of this material you will see the weaver starts in one corner of the charpoy and goes to the opposite corner diagonal to it. He seems to do this over and over again to form the center of the weave and this is clearly shown in the video below. On my charpoy the woven part seems to be one rope. If you look at photo #6 and photo #7 , you will see how the weave is started and how it develops. Here is a link to a site where they are caning a chair using a diagonal weave. Unlike my charpoy there are 2 layers of weave, one on top and one on the bottom.



The straight weave



The diagonal weave seems to be a very common way of weaving a charpoy. however there seem to be other ways of weaving a charpoy. If you look at photo #8 and photo #9 ,you will see examples of the straight weave where the weaver weaves form top to bottom and from side to side. If you look along the sides of the weave you will see tiny loops. the loops are formed when the thread or rope is tied to the side rails of the charpoy. this appears to be similar to what you would see in macrame. look at photo#10, can you see the similarity? this lead me to look into macrame furniture. I came across the macrame chair. I found many beautiful chairs that had been woven using a combo crochet and macrame technique. please look at the photo #11 of the lounge chair, it has been woven using the above technique. The lounge chair is very similar to the the charpoy. If the above technique works on the lounge chair it should also be a good way to cover a charpoy frame. This technique can be learned best by purchasing a video to see how it is done. Here is a link to a macrame chair video.





I am working on learning the macrame chair technique and I am trying to figure out the diagonal weave technique. As I get more information and figure things out I will post them here on this blog.
Please click on the pictures below for relevant links.

charpoy

charpoy
An example of a charpoy #1

Charpoy

Charpoy
Another picture of a charpoy #2

Old American style rope bed

Old American style  rope bed
Old American style rope bed #3

Medieval Rope Bed

Medieval Rope Bed
Ancient European rope bed #4

Rope bed frame instructions

Rope bed frame instructions
Rope bed frame instuctions #5

Weaving a Charpoy

Weaving a Charpoy
Weaving a charpoy #6

Making a charpoy

Making a charpoy
Making a charpoy #7

Straight weave charpoy

Straight  weave charpoy
#8

Another Straight weave charpoy

Another Straight weave  charpoy
#9

Macrame chair

Macrame chair
#10

Macrame lounge chair

Macrame lounge chair
#11

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Angareb and the Swahili bed

I have been looking on the internet recently and I have found that there are beds that are similar to the charpoy found in other coutries. I found a bed called the angareb and it is very popular in the Sudan. In Kenya and in Tanzania there is a bed called the Swahili bed and it is very similar to the charpoy. Here is a link to a picture of the angareb and here is a link to a tutorial on making the Swahili bed.

7 comments:

shazia mirza said...

hi,,nice blog...i am writing an artical about th most suitable beds fr hot places,thats how i arrived here..i v slept all my life on charpois and i know how gd and cool it is..sad that it s disapearing from urban areas

Anonymous said...

Hi, even I wanto to make my own charpoy but there are few questions which i hv in my mind....if you will be kind to ans that i will b very grateful.

How much weight can a single charpoy take ?

As it's a hand woven structure, won't it sink & sag from the center after some time period of regular usage?

How long will it take to repair ?

What do you think of the new plastic materials like polypropylene strings, won't it have any adverse effects on the skin if I sleep on it directly? The original Indians charpoys were made using cotton & jute strings & I am not sure about this new material.

Which is more softer to feel jute or cotton or plastic, and will be more durable?

Is it good for sleeping regularly, because of our bone & body structure & posture? I don't want to end up with back pain later on.

Regards

Urviii said...

I have few very imp questions regarding the charpoy structure & strength, since I have never used it myself.

How much weight can a single charpoy take ?

As it's a hand woven structure, won't it sink & sag from the center after some time period of regular usage?

If it does how long will it take to repair ?

Is it good for sleeping regularly, because of our bone & body structure & our posture? I don't want to end up with back pain later on.

have any idea why were the cotton & jute strings were replaced by plastic now?

the plastic strings are made of polypropylene, won't it have any adverse effects on the skin if I sleep on it directly? The original Indians charpoys were made using cotton & jute strings & I am not sure about this new material.

which is more durable out of plastic, cotton & jute strings?

Which is more softer to feel jute or cotton?

Thanks :)

embeadke said...

Hello, the charpoy is very strong when made properly. The charpoy can be made to support the weight of more than one person. If you look on the internet you can find pictures of charpoys in the town square with many people on them. I have seen pictures of charpoys that were used by married couples. There is even a picture of a horse dancing on a charpoy during a wedding celebration. The traditional charpoys were made from specific kinds of wood and rope that are very strong.
You asked if the charpoy will sag after using it for awhile. The answer is yes but that is the beauty of the charpoy. The charpoy is made with a rope that runs back and forth between the woven surface and the upper rail that is used to tighten the charpoy. It is not difficult to do. At first I had to tighten my charpoy every 2 to 3 months but now it seems to need to be tightened less often. Please look at some of the pictures the charpoys on this blog to see the tightening rope.
As far as comfort goes at first I tried sleeping directly on the ropes. I found that to be a little rough. Now I cover the ropes with one sheet and a double folded blanket and it feels great. The ropes seem to kind of massage the back a little. If you like you could put a lite mattress on the charpoy. With the charpoy you have many choices.
As far as the kind of weaving materials that are used, it is up to you. If you want natural fibers use natural fibers. I have seen videos with people raving about the benifits of natural fibers. However I have seen pictures of some beautiful charpoys made from synthetic ropes and straps. There are beautiful charpoys of good quality made with many different types of materials. As for skin irritation goes that is not a problem for me because my skin does not directly touch the ropes when I sleep.
Your question were great I hope you find or make a charpoy you can enjoy. Let us know how things work out.

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In search for the Light said...

Hi, I want to make my own charpoy. How much tope do i need? Any idea? And where can i find instructions for how to make one? I have some idea but would be good to have som hrlp..

embeadke said...

Hello In search for the light

 I would suggest that you look at some of the information on this blog and some of the links and try to figure out how to make a charpoy. There is a  picture of a charpoy below that links to instructions on making a frame that will work for a charpoy. Also there is a link below for a man who is making a charpoy. He has pictures of each stage of the making of  his charpoy. He posts his progress every couple of weeks.

As far as weaving the charpoy I would suggest that you look at the video of the woman who is weaving a macrame chair (link below). While  she is not weaving  charpoy the same technique can be used to make a charpoy. If you need more instructions ther is a link below to a video that you can buy for 15 to 17$ that will show you how to use macrame weaving techniques to weave a frame.

I do not know how much rope it will take to make a charpoy. That will depend on many factors like the size of the charpoy and how it is woven.

 I would suggest that you make a small frame that you can fit in your lap and pracitce your weaving. You can make it out of wood or pvc.

Good luck. Please let us about your progress in making a charpoy.