The Caravaner - the Chittiki Mobile Home

Congratulations, Chatone. You've come of age today, and so you've earned your own Caravaner. Just don't get into too much trouble with those wild friends of yours!
— Chittiki father to his daughter while presenting her tenth birthday present
T Chittiki are an industrious folk who have learned to make the best use of the sparse resources they have at their disposal. When merchants from the Warrens - Chittiki Homelands needing to cross the Dead Basin Desert to trade with the Sandhold needed a means to convey their goods as well as a means to survive in the desert itself, their ingenuity led to the development of specialized outfitting for their Sandrunner beasts of burden to meet these needs. Improvements since the first attempts have resulted in what is now a common sight not only in the desert, but also along the trade routes to Baron's Point: the Chittiki Caravener.  

Basic Construction

The Caravaner is a rather large structure that consists of three main parts: the platform that forms the basis of the whole contrivance, an understructure that fits onto the back of the Sandrunner and supports the platform, and a superstructure that shelters the folk and goods travelling in the caravaner.

Understructure
The understructure is custom fitted to the back of an individual adult Two-Frilled Sandlizard. Adult creatures can range in size from 18 to 25 feet (5.5 to 7 meters). Body shape can vary, as well as the size and specific placement of the spiny ridges along its back. To ensure comfort (and hence stamina) of the creature, the understructure must be carefully shaped to match the beast.

While it is possible to place a caravaner designed for one beast onto the back of another, conscientious Chittiki will do so only in dire emergencies. A trained Sandrunner is too valuable to risk its being injured by a poor-fitting caravaner. Successful merchants, who may own many Sandrunners, will have understructures fitted for each one even if they do not utilize their entire "stable" for a trade journey.
Platform
There is little to say about the platform. It is simply a rectangular wooden structure. It has fittings on its underside to match with joining points built into understructures, and fittings on top to support whatever superstructure the owner desires.

While understructures are each custom-fit to their intended Sandrunner, the once concession to standardization is the placement of the fittings where a platform is joined to it. This enables a single platform, and its superstructure, to be easily transferred from one Sandrunner to another. ("Easily" may not actually be the best word for this... platforms are large, and their superstructures can weigh several hundred pounds. It is definitely not a one-person task to move a platform from one beast's back to another.  
Superstructure
The first part of the superstructure is a driver's bench affixed at the front of the platform, often extending forward almost over the Sanrdunner's head. This allows the driver to see the creature and terrain beneath, and maintain better control with shorter reins.

Behind the bench, is the shelter, usually of heavy canvas stretched across a metal or wood frame. Metal frames are often arch-shaped, creating a semi-cylindrical shelter. Box-like frames are possible, and wood may be used instead of canvas, but these are heavier and less structurally sound - not considered practical by most. The canvas is treated with a waterproofing wax rubbed into it. This needs to be reapplied at least annually - more frequently if sandstorms are encountered on a journey.

Capacity

Platforms typically come in three sizes. The smallest (and cheapest) is four feet wide by twelve feet long - enough to support a superstructure that can comfortably shelter two Chittiki and still carry a modest amount of trade goods or personal possessions.

The medium size is five feet wide by fifteen feet long. These are the most common size among the Sandfolk Chittiki, accomodating entire families among these nomadic folk. Merchants find they can carry enough goods to make trade journeys profitable as well.

The largest standard size is six feet wide by eighteen feet long and is usually found only mounted on the largest of sandrunners. The larger Sandfolk families may possess these, but among that culture, they are usually a mark of importance within a traveling clan. They are definitely a status symbol among the merchants who traverse between the Warrens and Baron's Point or the Sandhold.  

Customization

Customizations to caraveners are either intended to improve comfort of those traveling within, or as decoration. They can also be status symbols of a sort, showing off the success or prosperity of the owner, or perhaps serving as a reminder of an important family heritage.

The Chittiki like to bring color to their otherwise desert-drab environment, and the broad expanse of canvas on a caravaner superstructure provides a great opportunity to do so. Shelters are often painted in at least two (often more) colors in what appear to non-Chittiki folk to be random patterns of swirls and other shapes. These are in fact, clan or family colors that serve as identifying patterns for the Chittiki to recognize one another from afar.

Merchants may also have their names and images of the goods they trade emblazoned on the sides of the shelters - ostensibly to make them more recognzable to their non-Chittiki trading partners and customers.

Customizations of the driving bench are also commin. While the most basic is a simple wooden bench; more elaborate caravaners may sport benches with spring mounts, cushioned seats, and sun canopies.
We're in for a spot of trouble, lad. Those are the colors of the Chaktwo's raider clan - and they're heading our way. Go put the coin purse into the hidey-hole, and get your sword ready.
— Chittiki merchant to her son upon spotting another group of caraveners approaching their merchant train
 

Credits

Banner Image and left panel of page background by Greg Montani from Pixabay
Right panel of page background by kevberon from Pixabay

Chittiki image on Banner by RPGDinosaurBob on HeroForge™

Comments

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Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
4 Jul, 2022 17:36

Hooray for my first trip to Cartyrion this Summer Camp. Well done!

Check out my article for the 2022 Summer Camp Reading Challenge
16 Jul, 2022 17:59

Thanks for the like! And the comment! They're always appreciated.

Teams of turtles pulling barges... villages that appear and disappear overnight... check out the: Redflow River
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