04 May 2011

No dirt in my Yurt!

I have never been to Mongolia and I would probably never have given the country a second thought, but then I saw the Focus Features film, "Babies".  One of the films four stars is a firecracker of a little boy named Bayar and he lives in Bayanchandmani, Mongolia.  He is absolutely one of the cutest creatures on the planet but unfortunately he's not the reason I've suddenly become enchanted by his homeland.  Rather, I'm fascinated by his house: a Yurt (or "Ger" if you're Mongolian).

Bayar's parents are Mongolian nomads who tend a large goat herd and, out of necessity, they live in a portable home.  If you know anything about herding animals, then you know that they aren't kept in one place for very long.  The herders have got to follow them around, and what better way for them to shelter themselves than with a Yurt?

Yurt's are massively cool, circular buildings that are completely collapsible.  The frame is typically made of latticed wood which is wrapped in waterproof canvas or wool felt.  This construction method makes it easy to disassemble and transport as needed.  Then there are the roof poles, which are usually draped in a waterproof material then attached to the wooden crown at the peak of the roof.  In larger Yurts, the crown is supported from below by a column of some sort.  The whole bundle of wood and fabric is then skillfully (and astonishingly) strung together using only ropes or ribbons.  If that's not a feat of design engineering and talent, then I don't know what is.

Anyway, the use of Yurts started in about the 12th or 13th century in Mongolia and entire villages of people would live in them, much like Native Americans (First Nation) living in Tepees.  The interior of some Yurts may even reflect a more spiritually inspired layout with importance being given to the cardinal directions (the door always facing South and the North-Eastern area of the Yurt being designated for the woman of the house).  However, many modern herders orient the door toward the rising sun so that they might use the Yurt as a sundial.  Ingenious, I know.

image property of http://www.onlydesigned.com

image property of http://www.asianaccess.org

Not surprisingly, Yurts can be found all around the world: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, (all the other stans), etc.  There are even people in the Americas who recognize the utility and convenience of such a mode of living, though the materials used for construction tend to be more high-tech than those found abroad.  Either way, if fate blesses you with the chance to sleep in one of these bad boys, take it.  I know I hope to someday.

Keep exploring!



  1. Well done. So fascinating the discoveries. Pl keep it up and more. Thanking You.

  2. Watched the same film and that little boy was probably my favorite baby. The house is pretty stellar too.