tHE HISTORY of a yurt
Yurts are known in Mongolia as a ger. They have been used by the nomads of Mongolia as homes for thousands of years.
There are three main types of yurt in use today. The Turkic or Khazak yurt with a bentwood roof and crown, the two tiered yurt, with a pointed roof, and the Mongol ger. The Mongol ger is the yurt in most common use today, being home to three-quarters of Mongolia's people.
The Mongolians use the word ger, meaning home rather than yurt, which is of Russian origin. There is evidence that yurts were used by the Scythian and Pazaryk peoples 2,500 years ago.
The traditional Manas poem describes a yurta this way:
Look at her beauty!
White as snow she was.
Made not from felt,
but from cloth.
Trellised wall varnished was.
And a mat, made from chij
Was with silk braided.
Ropes round the yurta Of quaint beauty were.
The yurta costs the Kyrgyz about the same amount of money as a nice car. Today, it is not unusual to see a shepherd's yurta with a car parked beside it. There are no nails in a yurta. The pieces of wood fit together, although they can also be tied with leather thongs. It takes a craftsman about 25 days to build a yurta but it will last for 25 years. Once it's built, it only takes a few hours to set up or take down.
The wooden ger is a permanent structure and is more commonly found in Siberia in areas where the inhabitants do not nomadize as often. Many Buryat families would keep one ger for the winter and another for the summer in better grazing areas. Wooden gers are rare in Central Asia except in parts of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia inhabited by Buryats.