- 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
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.