Traditional dwelling of the Mongolia
traditional dwelling of the Mongolia
The yurt is the traditional dwelling of the Mongolian nomads. It has a circular shape, is supported by a collapsible wooden frame, and covered by wool felt. In Mongolia, a "yurt" is called a "ger".
In the 12th and 13th centuries, ger-tereg (yurts on carts) were built for the khans and chieftains. Iron bushes of enormous dimensions for the shafts of a cart were found during excavations of Karakorum. The distance between the wheels of such a cart would be over 6 metres and it would be pulled by 22 oxen. Such ger-teregs are mentioned in the Secret History of the Mongols.
A common arrangement of a yurt camp in the medieval Mongolia was huree (meaning "circle"), in which the yurt of the khan or chieftain was located in the centre and the yurts of the other members of the tribe were placed around it.
This arrangement had a defensive function in the conditions of frequent skirmishes. Huree was replaced by ail (meaning "neighbourhood") arrangement in the 13th and 14th centuries during the unified Mongol Khanate when internal wars had stopped.
Huree arrangement came back after the disintegration of the Mongol Khanate in the 15th century. It became the basis for the arrangement of the monasteries that were initially founded as mobile monasteries (the other type of monasteries being "khiid" following the Tibetan arrangement) in the 16th and 17th centuries when Buddhism was firmly re-introduced. As huree-monasteries and huree-camps of nobles settled and grew up into towns and cities, the names of such settlements retained the word Huree as a necessary component (e.g. Niislel Huree,
Zasagtu Khaan-u Huree).
Originally, the roof had a steeper slope and the a rim around the center opening, to allow the smoke of the open fire to exit more easily. The introduction of enclosed stoves with chimneys (zuuh) in the 18th and 19th centuries, made it possible to simplify the design and use a lower silhouette. Another relatively recent development is the use of an additional layer of canvas for rain protection. A white cotton cover, originally only used on the yurts of nobles, has become commonplace.
The internal organization and furnishing mirrors the traditional roles of the family members as well as spiritual concepts, giving special significance to each of the cardinal directions, with the door always facing south. Herders use the position of the sun in the crown of the yurt as a sundial. The northeastern quarter of the yurt is reserved for the woman. The man was traditionally prohibited entering this quarter and touching the woman when she is in this quarter in case of a family conflict, while she was allowed to throw hard objects such as scissors at the husband from this position. Yurts have been used in Central Asia for thousands of years. In Mongolia, they have also influenced other architectural forms, particularly temples.
In the 21st century, between 30 and 40% of the population are still living in yurts, many of them in the suburbs of cities. The Mongolian word "ger" has additional connotations of "home". The stylistically elevated register for ger is orgoo, most commonly translated as "residence", and at times also the name of the mobile national capital.