Yurt Structure and furniture
The oldest complete yurt yet discovered was found in a 13th century grave in the Khentei Mountains. The majority of Mongolian people are still living in yurts. Piano Carpini, an Italian missioner wrote 7 centuries ago that “The Mongols build giant tents; once a red tent accommodated 2000 people”.
The Mongolian yurt consists of two main parts:
The walls are made with thin strips of wood arranged in a lattice formation. This allows them to be strong, flexible and easily collapsed for quick disassembly. The walls are bound with each other by ropes made of cattle hide. Roof poles or “uni” are placed between the walls and the center roof ring which form the conical shape. The size of a yurt can vary greatly. There are the yurts with 4,5,6,8 and up to 10 walls. As more walls are added, the diameter and size of the yurt increases. In addition, the width of the walls can vary from long to short. With these different sized walls the following combinations can be made: five wall yurt, eight wall yurt, big five wall yurt, small five wall yurt etc. Thus depending on the size of a yurt, the number of walls and the number and size of roof poles is different. A large yurt must support more weight, therefore the yurt poles must be more numerous and much stronger.
During ancient times people used felt shutters, lifting it up to open or close, which acted as a door. Modern nomads began to have wooden doors. Most doors are short and occupants or guest must bend over to enter or leave the yurt. The wooden door of the ger bears the loading compressing from the upper part of the ger like the walls. The permanent door also lies under the force of movement coming from opening and closing. Therefore, the door is made stable and heavy. The door is considered the heaviest among wooden parts of the ger. In terms of construction, the door is made with single or double boards. Making the door with double boards has the purpose of effectively segregating fro cold. The door of Mongolian ger has various decorations. It is decorated with Mongolian patterns either by painting or engraving.
Roof Ring (Toono)
The toono is the top roof ring of the yurt and is surrounded and supported by the pillars and yurt poles. The Toono also has ventilation slats cut into it which allow for sunlight to enter. There is also space for a stovepipe to pop out the top of the yurt. We have already mentioned, that the walls make the round shape of a ger. Aside from the walls, the toono also plays an important role of defining the round shape of a ger. The toono is glazed in order to keep closed during cold sea¬sons. But it is let open in warm seasons. It is common to see a toono decorated with Mongolian national patterns. The size of a toono is defined in measurements of the Mongolian ger. The diameter of a toono is as four times as less than that of a ger. 4R toono=R ger
Pillars (bagana) are the main vertical supports of the yurt. Yurts with 4, 5, or 6 walls have two pillars, and those with 8, 10, or 12 walls must have four pillars. Two pillars (prop) of Mongolian ger support the toono from the bottom and keep all components immovable. The height of a prop defines the height of a ger. The bigger the ger, the taller is the pillar. The top of a prop can be decorated with patterns like the toono and door of Mongolian ger.
Roof Poles (Uni)
The “uni” or roof poles are the wooden sticks that join the roof (toono) with the walls. It takes several people in order to balance the poles correctly so that they form a stable structure. The poles are inserted into holes in the roof ring. The bottom tip of the pole joins the top of the wall with a loop called sagaldarga. The shape of a ger is formed this way. Depending on the size of the ger there should be from 50-108 roof poles. Poles support the components of the roof. It transmits the weight of this loading to the walls. Mongolians sometimes got on their gers to clean the snow or dust. Poles support such loading. If a heavy man gets on the ger, the poles will obviously fracture. The part of the pole near the toono is made rectangular. This is 30% of the total length of the pole. There is a custom to decorate this part with patterns.
In historic tradition of the Mongolian ger, nomads used to put up a ger
directly on the ground or without a hard insulator. This is related with the fact that all kinds of Mongolian livestock produce a young in cold circumstances at the end of winter and beginning of spring. A baby animal has to be taken inside a ger or it will die of cold. Thus, a floor was invented during the development process of Mongolian ger. In modern times, especially urban users widely use a wooden floor. First sand or dirt is laid down in order to level each
piece, and all the pieces are arranged to form a circular floor. The color of the wooden floor is warm such as yellow and orange. The floor can be made of wood and wood like material.
Internal Cover (Tsavag)
Internal cover is made by white fabric and “tsavag” -made by felt. Traditionally, to lighten inside a ger, “tsavag” was made by white felt and placed on “uni”. Later on, upon development, an inner white cover called “tsavag” replaced the felt. We have learnt about wooden components of Mongolian ger. Now let’s learn about other components of Mongolian ger. This part includes blankets, which cover the wood of a ger. These blankets are made of felt and canvas. Blankets are put after the wooden part of a ger is erected. At first, the interior and exterior of the poles are covered with white blankets.
The roof is made by felt and shal be placed on the “uni”. The roof of the yurt’s part situated behind the hearth can be two types: with “Toono” burrow and without “Toono” burrow. Mongolians have covered their huts and lodging with wool, skin and hair of livestock since ancient times. This led to finding refined methods of producing wool. This includes Mongolians’ method of making hand- made felt with sheep wool. The felt, which has been made and used by Mongolians for many milleniums, is hand-made in many stages, sequence and under appropriate circumstances.
Wall Cover (Tuurga)
Tuurga is a ger’s wall-cover made by felt. Walls of Mongolian ger are wrapped round with pieces of felt. While wrapping, a small part of the top piece of felt has to be fixed compressing the bottom of the poles. Seams will appear here. These seams are cut and the two sides are sewed together. The piece of felt is 30cm taller than the walls. The number of pieces of felt for one ger is three or more. There are ropes at the two tips of the piece of felt. There is also a hole or loop in the upper middle part of the piece of felt. The top is also made many holes. This loop has the purpose being inserted a rope of the adjacent piece of felt, pulled and tied. Mongolians have made different colors of felt. In medieval century, black felt was made waterproof. Felt can be white, black and brown. Brown felt is the most common of all. When decorating felt roof and wall with patterns, other colors of felt and various colors of cotton are used.
White Dense (Outer Cover of Yurt)
White outer cover of a ger descended from the earlier stages of social development. This is used to protect the felt cover and to improve ger’s outlook. The last outer of Mongolian ger is entirely covered with white covering. The white outside covering is either decorated with patterns or not decorated at all. Before covering the Mongolian ger with white cover, the roof and walls are put first. When the roof and walls consist of many pieces, the outer white covering is one-piece. Namely, when a folded outside white covering is unfolded, the shape of a ger appears in one-piece of material. Covering a ger with outer white covering is similar to putting a shirt with closed front and buttoned back on a person.
Felt Cover of Roof Ring (Urkh)
The urkh is a square felt cover used for covering “toono”. Urkh (cover for the hole in the roof) of Mongolian ger is put on the toono and has the main role of coordinating the dependence of the inward environment of the ger on the external natural effect. Namely, it has the main role of coordinating the influence of rain, wind, storm, cold and heat. If the size of the urkh is too big, the shape the shape of the ger will break. On the other hand, if the size is too small, the urkh will lose its main function to coordinate the external influence. Four tips of the urkh must be nailed strong ropes. The length of every rope should reach the bottom of the wall or the floor. Drawing the urkh is putting the front part of the rectangular urkh is tied around the ger clockwise ended at the back.