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Whether you’re new to the world of yurts, a yurt enthusiast, or for generations your family has been building and assembling gers from scratch, you have likely been made aware that there is more than one type of yurt. Yurts date back to more than 3000 years ago in Central Asia and have evolved a great deal since. Traditional Mongolian and Turkic yurts are most common in Central Asia, however, the rest of the world has seen growth in popularity for both the traditional and modern versions. But what is the best way to go? Well, this depends on your style, location, climate & municipal regulations.
Traditional yurts are nomadic tents that have been used by Central Asian tribes for centuries. They are made of felt or other natural materials and are typically circular in shape. The structure of a traditional yurt consists of lattice walls attached in a circle and supporting roof rafters that are radiating from a central dome opened to the sky (called toono in Mongolia). The wall and roof covers are made of felt and canvas and are held in place by horse-hair ropes. The floor is typically made of packed earth or a wooden platform.
Mongolian gers, in particular, are extremely efficient due to their compact silhouette that has been shaped in an extreme climate over the course of hundreds of years. They are fairly easy to move from one location to the other and leave little to no footprint.
Modern yurts, on the other hand, are a more recent development and are typically using more manmade materials such as vynil for the outer cover. The structure of modern yurts are often higher to accommodate standard doors and a steeper pitch. Reflective bubble wrap is mostly used as insulation. The flooring can be wooden or made of other sturdy materials. Some modern yurts can also be equipped with plumbing and electrical systems.
Mongolian yurts, which are still used today by about half the Mongolian population, were developed to withstand the harshest weather conditions – making them 4-season dwellings. Modern Yurts can also survive seasonal changes, which attests to why both are popular North America.
The origin proportions of the Mongolian yurt were tried and tested for thousands of years and are still honored throughout Mongolia to this day. Notably, the doors are smaller than North American standards. This is not because Mongolians are short, but rather, because of functionality and physics! The short doorway allows for a more aerodynamic shape, making it easy for the yurt structure to endure high winds. Additionally, it is also proven to be more efficient to heat during the winter season!
Modern yurts were designed with higher doors to fit the North American building codes. It should be noted that this modification is not as effective at resisting high winds.
Another main difference is the materials that are used to construct the yurts. Traditional Yurts are hand-made with natural and breathable materials, heavily avoiding the use of plastic to cover and insulate the yurt. Modern Yurts are mainly constructed with vinyl covers for the outside layer. A big concern with the use of nonbreathable material is that the yurt consequently has an issue with fending off condensation, affecting ease of maintenance and comfortability.
About Groovy Yurts
At Groovy Yurts, we too have modified the yurt very slightly, with most respect for Mongolian traditions! Because of the moist climates we often face, we’ve added a layer of breathable membrane between the canvas and the felt insulation. This hinders the breathability of the yurt slightly but is the best compromise that we have found to prevent water from coming in, while allowing the humidity to escape.
Additionally, for those with more minimalistic styles, we have partnered with Tuya and her team to provide our new line of contemporary yurts – The Natural Wood Collection! These Mongolian gers allow the natural woodwork to shine. Be sure to check them out!
As one of the oldest dwellings in the world, the yurt never ceases to amaze us with its capacity to adapt to different needs and conditions. No matter how you compare them, they all share the same core value of roundness that brings people together! So, we’ve laid it all out. The pros, cons, and realities of living out of a traditional or modern yurt. Now the million-dollar question is, which yurt best suits you?
Next Read: Winter Yurt Tips
Modern Yurt Image: https://zurl.co/IGG4