I just finished a manuscript, another biographical historical novel set in Cyprus. The heroine goes to Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) to pay tribute to the sultan. She is met at the city gates by one of the sultan’s men, who has brought a line of camels to transport the queen and her ladies to the palace. To write this scene, I had to research camels—their saddles and accoutrements as well as their personalities. I learned that camel milk is a staple in the diets of nomads. The milk is richer in fat and protein content than cow milk is. The hump, which one of my grade school teachers said was filled with water, is actually a fatty deposit, but the makeup of their internal system is such that they can go without food and water beyond the time another animal would have died. Their heavy coats reflect the heat and help to keep them cool. Camels have been used for centuries, for carrying men and supplies, for racing, and in warfare, as late as WWII.
Camels are prized possessions in some countries, and Arabian camel saddles are often adorned with brilliant colors. Saddle bags fringed with tassels are hung down each side of the camel and can be used for transporting goods and personal possessions. On some occasions the camel may be decorated with necklaces, chest bands, knee covers, a fanny pack over the hind quarters and drapes hung from their shoulders. I’ve never ridden a camel, but I was told they have a gentle sway, totally unlike a ride on a horse.