Yurt FAQ

What is a Yurt?
Yurt is the name commonly used to refer to a Mongolian Felt Tent or Ger. Mongolians do not usually appreciate the term because it is most often used by Western invaders. So, in spite of this page's title, we will attempt to use Ger where ever possible.

A Ger is really more than a tent. The Mongols live in them year round and tend to prefer them to other forms of housing. The design has been developed for generations to suit the needs of its inhabitants. It can be warm in arctic cold, yet cool in summer. The structure can collapse small enough to fit on one draft animal and can be set up again in a half an hour.

What are the different elements of a ger?
Lattice Walls (qana)
These walls are formed by several individual sections of cris crossed lattice work, much like baby gate. These wall sections were constructed of wooden poles joined together with leather lacing at the crossings. The number of crossings along the top would usually be from ten to fifteen. The number of crossings along the length of a pole would usually be thirteen, a number of spiritual significance. The wall sections are usually butted, meaning they end square with the use of shorter poles.
Each wall section can obviously be collapsed to take up very little room.

The door, with the two ends of the qana coming to meet on either side of its wooden framing, can be strikingly modern in appearance. It is usually constructed completely of wood but sometimes incorporates felt as well. The door's threshold is believed to contain the spirit of the house and it is forbidden, and a great offense to the ger's owner, to step on it.

Roof Ring (toghona)
The roof ring is the most complex element in ger construction. It is usually a hoop of wood containing slots or holes that the roof poles can lock into. The interior of the ring can contain many different designs but must be relatively open to allow smoke and air flow. During bad weather is it covered with a piece of felt or hide (called an eruke).

Roof Poles (uni)
Roof poles are simply the wooden beams that form the roof skeleton. They are usually shaved down on one side to allow them hook into the roof ring. The other end of a roof pole is laid against the top of the qana or its lashings.

Felt (isegei)
Like all ger materials, this is manufactured local to Mongolia. In the states, we'd probably call this canvas. During really cold times of year, many layers might be used, including animal hides. This covering is secured using ropes. The ropes and felt are made from hair, human and other.