Geo MuseumThe current position:Home > Folk Customs

Mongolian yurt

Publish Time:2014-01-20 Author:ftwljsb Click:712

   1. Name and origin of the Mongolian yurt 

Mongolian yurt is called “Mongolian legeri” in Mongolian and means the Mongolian house. The broad border in the north, from the snow peak of Aertai in the west to the green forest of Xing’an Mountains in the east and from Beijiaer Lake in the north to the Great Wall in the south, was once the great stage of battlefield and free pasturing of the northern nomad, and the house most suitable for such living is the Mongolian yurt. Therefore, the Mongolians are called “people in felt tent” and the Mongolian yurt is called yurt or felt tent.


  At first, there were two kinds of Mongolian yurts, one was carried on cart and movable, and the other could be dismantled and erected on the grassland directly. The Mongolian yurts carried on cart were different in size. Smaller one could be dragged by one cow or horse, while larger one needed to be dragged by two cattle.

  During finding suitable houses for themselves, the Mongolians, after hundreds of years of scrabbling and based on the wickiup, finally built the house suitable for pastoral nomadism and migration all over the year and resisting the cold weather of the northern plateau and found the Mongolian yurt which could endure the tests of nature.

  2. Characteristics of the Mongolian yurt
(1) Suitable for natural environment
The Mongolian yurts are generally round without edges and corners and in streamline shapes. Top of the yurt is arch and has the strongest bearing capacity, and while body of the yurt is nearly columniform. The top and bottom constitutes a solid whole. Therefore, the sandstorm, wind and snow of the steppe can not destroy the Mongolian yurt. A solid Mongolian yurt can endure 10 wind scales. Because top of the yurt is round and can not hold water, cover the felt of the top when raining and snowing, the whole Mongolian yurt becomes a spherical closing body. Therefore, it can stand the rainstorm of the steppe. Rainstorm of several days and nights can destroy houses, but the Mongolian yurt will stay still. No matter how heavy the rain is, it can not seep into the yurt.

  The Mongolian yurt is warm in winter and cool in summer. Since ancient times, the Mongolian area has been very cold, “the coldness of Mongolian area can crack the horn of sheep of three-year-old”. The Mongolians live in the yurt from generation to generation and nobody has ever hurt by cold, because, firstly, there is fire inside the yurt. There are plenty of cattle and sheep manure in the pastoral area, and as long as the fire is burnt, it will be warm. Secondly, the felt yurt is thickened outside in winter and a layer of felt is tied inside to obtain better wind resisting performance. Thirdly, they warm the yurt, close the cover, block the door, and cover with sheep skin quilt and fur gowns when sleeping, how can it be cold? Fourthly, they can sit around in the yurt to warm the kang and fire outside. If the yurt is too hot, regulate the temperature through the top felt; in hot summer, the Mongolians erect felt yurt on the broad highland and sit inside the yurt drinking and singing, with the fragrance of flower and cool wind blowing on the face and aroma of cream coming with the air, it feels like the Asgard. Because the Mongolian yurt is spherical and mainly white, it has great glistening effect. A skylight can be opened at the back and the felt surrounding can be rolled up to let the wind come from all directions, just like a summer shelter. It is especially suitable for making dairy food, because the dairy food will not be too sour in the yurt.

  (2) Suitable for nomadism life
Fast erecting: location for erecting the Mongolian yurt is not strict, and the yurt is mostly migrated with water and grass. Mongolian yurt is a kind of combined house with each part separated. Not many people are needed to erect the yurt, two will be enough.

  Easy dismantling: dismantling the Mongolian yurt is much easier than erecting. Untie the ropes, the felt and frame will be separate automatically. Hana, wuni, and taonao are all separate and can be dismantled and folded quickly.

  Convenient for loading and moving: basic materials of the Mongolian yurt are wood and felt, and therefore, it is very convenient for loading.

  Convenient for repairing: materials used for the Mongolian yurt are adjusted to local conditions and obtained from local resources. When any parts are damaged or old, replace them. The Mongolian yurt can be expanded and shrunk. However, psychologically and customarily, the Mongolians do not like shrinking the yurt. There is the saying of “it is better to shrink the stomach than shrink the yurt".

  3. Compositions of the Mongolian yurt
The Mongolian yurt is mainly composed of three parts, racks, covering felt (cover), and ropes.
(1) Rack
General frame of the Mongolian yurt is wood structure, composing of taonao, wuni, hana, and doors.
Taonao is the core of rack and skylight of the Mongolian yurt, and size of the taonao determines length and number of the wuni.
Wuni is generally translated into rafter and is the wood bar connecting taonao and hana. Length of the wood bar is about 1.5 times of diameter of the taonao, and it is smaller on the upper end which is inserted into the ring shape wood of taonao, and larger on the lower end which is connected with hana through ropes and has holes on it. The holes are consistent with those on the hana.

  Hana is a mesh with rhombic holes made of willow strips and leather ropes. Connect several hana together to form a round grating frame, and this is the wall of Mongolian yurt.

  Door is called “halaga” in Mongolian and is composed of frame, threshold, and head. Door of the Mongolian yurt can not be too high, generally about 3 chi and 5 inches high and 2 chi and 5-6 inches wide. People must bend over to get inside. The door is southward or southeastward to avoid the northwest wind. Generally, the door is double-layered in winter, and the one inside is called wind door and opened to both sides.

  (2) Covering felt
The covering felt is composed of top felt, ceiling, surrounding felt, external cover, felt wall foot, and felt curtain. Covering felt of the Mongolian yurt is of one layer in summer, two layers in spring and autumn, and three layers in cold winter with curtain hanging inside.

  (3) Belts and ropes
Although belts and ropes (enclosing rope, pressurizing rope, band, and falling rope, etc.) are fragmentary, they play an important role: keep the shape of Mongolian yurt; prevent hana from bursting outside; prevent the ceiling and surrounding rack from sliding and being overwhelmed by wind. In a word, they are important for maintaining stability and elongating service life of the Mongolian yurt.

  The Mongolian yurt reflects the taste of the Mongolians. The Mongolian yurt is white, spherical, and taonao connecting with wuni in the shape of light shining from the sun and the moon, which reflect that the Mongolians psychology of worshipping circle and worshipping the sun and the moon.

  4. Furnishings inside the Mongolian yurt
Furnishings inside the Mongolian yurt are unique. The furnishings have their own fixed positions. In the center, it is the stove and range, namely the fire support. The fire support is very important to a family and an important symbol of existence and continuity of the family, as well as the symbol of prosperity of the family.

  Northwest wide of the Mongolian yurt is the place of worshipping figure of Buddha, niche, and ancestors. Because the Mongolians have always considered northwest as the honored direction, articles related to God are worshipped in northwest. And then pasturing and hunting tools of men, such as saddle, whip, bow and arrow, and shotguns, are placed in southwest. Beds are placed in northwest of the Mongolian yurt, and next to the bed are the chests of women in northeast. Vertical closet with various patterns are placed in the east for storing bowls, calyx, pans, range, spoon, tea, milk, and furniture, etc. Kitchen utensils and milk tools are place in southeast.

  5. Seat arranging, seating method, lodging and sleeping in the Mongolian yurt
Since the ancient time, the Mongolians have had clear division for seats. In the past, men sat in the west, and women sat in the east. At that time, east was the honored seat. The Mongolians had a matrilineal society times in the past. People worshipped sun at that time and considered the direction from which the sun rose sacred. Therefore, they left the east to female who was then bearing sway. With the development society, paternity times arrived, and people considered the west as the honored seat. In such way, although seats of men and women did not change, the meaning had actually reversed. Men of the family sit in a row from up (north) to down (south) according to generation and age. Women in the east are also the same. There is special division for the north and south: north of the felt yurt is called golden position and is the seat of householder, even his own children can not sit in the north or northwest. Only when the child becomes the householder or establishes a new family, can he succeed or replace his father's seat. When the father is old, he has to hand over rights of the family to married son and gives him the seat in the north, and he will sit in northwest. If the father dies when he is young, no matter how old the son is, he will sit in the north. Generally, no one will sit at the gate of Mongolian yurt, especially guests. Only when there are many people at home, can children sit at the gate temporarily.

  Seat of the guest in Mongolian yurt is the same with that of the families. Ordinary guest and young guest can not get across north of the ledger of taonao, and the elder generally sit in the north of the ledger. If the host invites the guest to sit on the seat of honor, it shows the respect to the guest, and then the guest should sit in the northwest or north. Generally, do not sit in front of the Buddha table or chest in northwest or upstream of fire of the range to show respect to the Buddha, ancestor, burning incense, and family of the host. Woman guest sits in northeast by going round the east. The hostess generally cooks in the east. Guests will sit in the yurt in different directions in order according to the age, status, and familiarity.

  There is a motto in the folk that “you should learn to sit even if you do not know how to read”. In the Mongolian yurt, sitting has been considered as a knowledge and great event. No matter who the guest is, he must hunker with one leg while visiting others'. People sitting in the west should bend left knee; those sitting in the east should bend right knee. Not only the guest, but also the host will sit in such manner on the guest welcoming seat when guests come in to show respect. Women should squat one leg and bend the other in front of guest to show their respect and friendship to the guests. For sleeping at ordinary time, the host sleeps with his wife in the north, and elder of the family sleep in the west. If there is not enough room and someone has to sleep in the east, woman should sleep in the east. If there are guest, they will reserve the best place (north or west) to the guest. While sleeping, no body, guest or family, should point their foot at the figure of Buddha and fire of range. Head of the person sleeping in the west should be northward, head of the person sleeping in the north should be westward, and head of the person sleeping in the east should be northward. While sleeping, the host will prepare new felt, pillow, and quilt for the guests. After the guests, elder, and host are asleep, rest of the family can sleep on their own positions and should not go to sleep before the guests.


Copyright:Sponsored by Keshikhteng People’s Government, Chinese Communist Keshikhtneg Banner Committee; all rights reserved
Undertaken by Ministry of Publicity of Chinese Communist Keshikhteng Banner Committee
Maintenance and Manufacturing: Chifeng City Fengtai Network CO., Ltd.
Technical Suppot: 0476-5881999
Mon. ICP Preparation NO. 14000491