the carbet

Carbet in Guyana


The carbet is a traditional construction emblematic of Guyanese culture. It is an open-air shelter, built with natural materials such as wood and palm leaves, which played an important role in the daily life of the Amerindian and Maroon populations of Guyana. Today, carbet is also popular with tourists who visit the region. In this article, we will explore the history, architecture, uses, cultural significance, building materials, regional variations, change over time, tourism activities, advantages and disadvantages, as well as the rules of respect and preservation initiatives linked to traditional carbet in Guyana.

History of carbet: Native American origins

The carbet finds its origins in the architectural practices of the Amerindian populations of Guyana. These constructions were used as temporary or permanent shelters, depending on the needs of each tribe. Native Americans used natural materials such as wood, lianas and palm leaves to build their carbets. They were often located near waterways, thus facilitating access to natural resources.

Architectural features of the carbet

The carbet is distinguished by its open structure and its sloping roof, covered with palm leaves or sheet metal. It generally does not have walls, but can be protected against the elements using curtains or removable panels. The wooden pillars support the roof and provide necessary stability to the structure.

The different uses of traditional carbet

The traditional carbet was used for various purposes in the daily life of the Guyanese populations. It served as a place of rest, meeting and exchange, cooking, community meeting, place for celebrating traditional festivals and protection against bad weather. The carbets also served as places of education where the elders passed on their knowledge to the younger ones.

The importance of carbet in Guyanese culture

The carbet occupies a central place in Guyanese culture. It symbolizes the traditions and ways of life of the indigenous and Maroon populations of the region. The carbet is considered a sacred space, where ancestors are honored and links with nature are preserved. It is also a symbol of cultural identity and resilience in the face of historical challenges.

Materials used to build a carbet

The materials used to build a traditional carbet are mainly of natural origin. Wood, from trees such as mahogany, rosewood or breadfruit, is used for pillars and base structures. Palm leaves are used to cover the roof, providing protection against rain and sun. Vines are used to reinforce the structure and local fabrics are sometimes used for curtains and removable panels.

Regional variations of carbet in Guyana

Although the carbet is found throughout Guyana, there are regional variations in its architecture and use. The huts of Amerindian populations are often characterized by simpler structures and palm leaf roofs. The huts of the Maroon communities, on the other hand, can be more complex, with woven palm walls and artistic decorations.

The evolution of carbet over time

Over time, carbet has evolved to adapt to new realities and the needs of populations. Modern carbets can be built with more durable and resistant materials, such as concrete or sheet metal. Some carbets are also equipped with electricity and toilets, to meet the needs of visitors and tourists.

The importance of the roof in a carbet

The roof is a crucial element in the construction of a carbet. It protects against rain and sun and creates a pleasant atmosphere inside the structure. Palm leaves, in addition to their practical function, also give a traditional and characteristic aesthetic to the construction.

Carbet-related activities in tourism

Carbet has become a major tourist attraction in Guyana. Visitors have the opportunity to stay in cabins specially designed to accommodate tourists, and to participate in cultural and traditional activities, such as dancing, singing or preparing traditional dishes. The carbet offers an authentic experience of Guyanese culture and the surrounding nature.

The advantages and disadvantages of a traditional carbet

The advantages of a traditional carbet lie in its harmonious integration into the natural environment, its low environmental impact, its resistance to bad weather, and its role in cultural preservation. However, some disadvantages can be noted, such as the absence of walls, which can make the structure less secure, and the need for regular maintenance of the natural materials used.

The rules of respect and conservation of carbets

Traditional carbets are sacred spaces and must be respected as such. It is important to follow certain rules when visiting or using a carbet, such as respecting local customs, not disturbing sacred objects and keeping the premises clean. Preserving the carbets also involves raising awareness and educating visitors about their cultural and environmental importance.

Initiatives to preserve traditional carbets

Several initiatives have been put in place to preserve traditional carbets in Guyana. Training programs in traditional construction techniques are offered to younger generations, in order to pass on this ancestral know-how. Cultural associations and institutions also work to preserve and restore existing carbets, in order to keep this essential part of Guyanese culture alive.


The carbet is much more than a simple construction in Guyana. It is the symbol of a culture, a history and an identity. From the Amerindian past to current preservation, the carbet continues to occupy a central place in the daily life and collective imagination of the Guyanese. It is a living testimony to a unique architectural tradition, and a reflection of the harmonious relationship between man and nature. It is essential to continue to preserve and promote traditional carbets, in order to transmit this heritage to future generations and share it with the world.