The nomadic architecture and life style have many latent aspects, influenced by the ways of living of nomads, their culture and society. Nomadic life involves annual and temporal movement, where a group of people, along with their livestock, move from winter tents to summer pastures and return again in the cold season to their winter camp. This movement presents some sort of harmony with the natural environment, partly influenced by environmental forces. On this basis, we can assume that the nomadic life is a livelihood and, hence, a cultural issue. In this regard, the concept of territory as one of the key concepts in human and environmental studies has a special place in the formation of the spatial system of nomadic architecture. More than being a physical concept, territory is a mental concept that effects both the physical structure of the environment, the behavior patterns of the inhabitants and the meanings that inhabitants assign to their environment. However, it seems that little attention has been paid to examining this concept in nomadic architecture. Therefore, the present pper studies the life style of nomadic people and the spatial organization associated with this type of living and examines the concept of territory in three realms of physical, behavioral, and semantic in ILL Sadat-Mahmudi of Boyerahmad Semli tribes as a case study. For this purpose we conducted a fieldwork in the places of living of these tribes, mapped their settlements, and used interviews and observation for collecting data. The findings of the research conceptualized territory in three realms of physical, functional and semantic in nomadic architecture, from both the objective and the subjective points.
The physical patterns and living spaces of the nomadic people can be categorized into primary (private), secondary (semi-public) and public areas. The primary realm is the interior of black space of Chador (tent) where people live. The secondary realm refers to the open space in front of the tent, located between the tent and livestock’s spaces. In this space, preparing food and dairy products, washing and livestock storage take place. The public realm also refers to the open space between the tents, which is formed between several black tents. In each of these territories, different activities can be observed, including eating, resting, welcoming guests and the like in the private sphere; livestock related activities, food preparation, washing and the like in the secondary domain; and finally, social activities, including pillboxes, ritual ceremonies and the like in the public domain. Ultimately, each of these territories and their associated behaviors and activities, leads to the formation of different meanings for inhabitants, which are related to the characteristics of tribal life. Among these meanings, one can refer to warfare, hospitality, freedom, self-affirmation, and so on. Furthermore, there is a two-way relationship between spatial characteristics, behavior patterns and meanings in nomadic settlements. This means that the physical characteristics of space in the lives of nomads facilitates the formation of certain behaviors and limits others in particular territories. These meanings are formed through the harmony between the physical characteristics of the environment and behavioral patterns that take place in them. These meanings also shape the ways in which activities take place in a particular space and how the space is organized in nomadic housing.