The History of the Tipi – and your photos!

Is there anything more gorgeous than a tipi? Snuggling up inside the canvas walls around a cosy woodburning stove while the weather rages outside... Tips have had something of a resurgence in recent years; from tipi villages to glamping sites set up at festivals, the sight of their central poles standing high above the bell tents and vans around is becoming more and more common. But where did they come from originally? Here's a little history lesson on tipis (or teepees), and then some lovely pictures sent in by our customers who've fitted a Frontier or a Traveller Stove in their tipi.

Tipis were originally made from animal skins stretched around wooden poles propped up in a conical shape, and used by Native Americans as homes. The animal skins meant the tipis stayed dry when it rained and kept the inside cool when it was hot and warm in the winter. Constructing homes this way meant that they were perfect for the nomadic lives of Native Americans, allowing the dwellings to be taken down and moved when necessary. They have an opening at the top where the skins or canvas wrap around the poles, and this was used for ventilation as a central open fire was usually lit in the middle of the tent. There were also smoke flaps in the material of the tipi, allowing the draw of smoke up through the tent to be controlled and to allow for further ventilation. In winter they were lined with canvas or calf skin, providing an extra layer of insulation sometimes stuffed with grass, and the draft between this second layer and the outer one provided a further draw to the fire.

While most tipis in a village would not have been painted, occasionally after a 'dream journey', the events of the dream would be told to the priests and wise men, who would consult a skilled painter to depict the dream on the canvas of the tipi.

A similar shelter to the tipi was used by the Sami people in Northern Scandinavia, called a laavu or, in its bigger form, a goahti. These were made from forked or straight poles covered with canvas.

Nowadays tipis are usually made of canvas like bell tents, or even breathable high-tec fabrics that make the tents a lot lighter - no carting around piles of animal skins and saplings!

Here are some great photos of our customers getting cosy in their tipi tents...


Lovely spot for a tipi - well stocked for firewood as well!

Tipi set up with woodburning stove

Frontier Stove in a modern tipi tent. Love the woodsmoke puffing out of the chimney!

A cosy little setup for a cold night.

  Tipi tent set up

A happy camper outside his tipi in a beautiful clearing in the woods.  

Great spot!

Tipi set up with woodburning stove

A great photo of a tipi and Frontier Stove at night... What we wouldn't give to curl up in there on a winter's night!

Nothing like the glow of the sun on the walls of your tipi as you lie in bed... bliss!