The Oxford English dictionary defines a “caravansary” (also spelled “caravanserai”) historically as “an inn with a central courtyard for travelers in the desert regions of Asia or North Africa.” A secondary definition refers to the notion of communal travel, and an etymological breakdown of the Persian root indicates a “palace” for “caravans.”
This seems to suggest the “wall of RVs” that has become so common in many Burning Man camps these days, can be turned from a problem into a feature. Pass within the walls bearing gifts, and you will find an oasis of plush silk to plonk your dusty ass down on.
Back to BAR:
Caravansaries were historically places where desert travelers could gather within protective structures at waypoints in their marathon treks, and naturally this led to an intimate commingling of cultures, as people from far-flung places met face-to-face in the open air.
I find myself deeply inspired by Caravansary and the poetic synthesis it finds with our already existent community ethos. I’m already having visions of whirling dervishes, gypsy entertainers, Bactrian camel art cars, Langdon Warner costumes (the real-life inspiration for Indiana Jones, who some consider a consummate historian while others regard as not more than a looter), Byzantine architecture, Chinese pagodas, Mughal warriors, Buddhist pilgrims, oodles of silk, phantasmagoric caravans, and of course communal fires where we can gather and find catharsis together.
Communal fires? Yes, it is possible to have open fires in your theme camp. You just have to follow the Rules, which are:
OPEN FIRE WITHIN THEME CAMPS
- Burning of a large art installation is not allowed in any camping area.
- No fire barrels or Open Fire shall be left unattended. At least one camp member should be designated fire tender and be within visual distance at all times. If found unattended while lit, open flames or burn barrels may be extinguished and/or confiscated if there is sufficient threat of hazard.
- If winds pick up, all Open Fire must be put out immediately and burn barrels must be extinguished if they begin to throw sparks.
- Open Fire greater than 10 feet tall should be secured from the wind and its safety perimeter increased appropriately.
- Open Fire or burn barrels must be extinguished at the request of any Ranger, FAST, and/or Emergency Services personnel.
- A 20 foot zone around the fire must be free of any flammable materials such as (but not limited to) cloth, paper, tents, plastic, etc
- A supply of at least five gallons of water must be kept on hand to extinguish the fire in case of high winds or other hazards. Wind can blow embers and sparks a long distance across the playa!
- Burn barrels should be secured and constructed in a way that the bottom surface is at least six inches from the playa to prevent baking or scarring of the playa surface.
FLAME EFFECTS AND PROPANE GAS FLAMES WITHIN THEME CAMPS
A Flame Effect is defined as any device that is automated, switched, pressurized or having any other action other than simply being lit on fire.
- No large-scale Flame Effects using 40 or more gallons of fuel are allowed in theme camps.
- No pressurized liquid fuels are to be used within the camping area.
- Flame Effects should be secured and constructed in a way that the burning surface is at least six inches from the playa to prevent baking or scarring of the playa surface.
- All fuel lines are to be manufactured and rated for LP gas. Note compressed air hoses are not an acceptable substitute for LP gas line and will not be approved.
- If winds pick up, all Flame Effects must be put out.
- Any towers or artwork that incorporates fire should be secured from the wind and encircled with an appropriate safety perimeter.
- Flame Effects must be extinguished at the request of any Ranger or Emergency Services personnel.
- No Flame Effect shall be left unattended while lit. At least one camp member will be designated fire effect operator and be within visual distance at all times. If found unattended while lit, Flame Effects may be extinguished and/or confiscated.
- A 20 foot zone around the Flame Effect must be free of any flammable materials such as, but not limited to, cloth, paper, tents, plastic, etc
- An appropriate safety perimeter will be maintained at all times to prevent injury to participants.