How Yurts Have Evolved Throughout History

a Mongolian yurt overlooking the mountainside

The word “yurt” is an incredibly unfamiliar word, and for many people, no picture pops up in the brain when they hear this term.

So what is a yurt? A yurt is a large, circular tent that is made of wool stretched over a wooden frame. These yurts come in numerous shapes and sizes and are native to the nomadic peoples of the Eurasian steppe.

The yurts were used as a temporary home because it was practical and easy to transport when tribes moved to new pastures.

The Mongolian terrain is flat, harsh, and large, with climates varying from excessively hot to overly cold. There are three rudimentary elements for survival in this unique environment, food and water, shelter, and the yurt.

Although times have changed, yurts are still the primary form of accommodation in Mongolia, with over 50% of the population still living in them.

How Yurts Are Built

bed and table inside a yurt

To outsiders, a yurt looks like a bigger version of a tent. But there’s so much more to it than meets the eye.

The main structure of the yurt is created by a collapsible collection of criss-cross wooden beams that are made of light and flexible wood such as birch, willow, and bamboo.

These wooden beams create a lattice framework that determines the shape of the yurt.

The material that is spread over the wooden lattice work was traditionally made out of layers of felt. The felt was designed from sheep wool that has been repeatedly crushed. When the wool is beaten, the microscopic barbs in the fiber mesh together, forming a solid cloth.

To accommodate for the heavy rainfall, sheep’s milk or fat was spread over each layer of felt, which waterproofed the tent and even acted as an insulator against the elements.

Once all alterations were made on the material, the felt is laid out on the framework and secured with leather strapping that’s held under pressure and surrounds the perimeter of the yurt.

A stronger type of wood is used to create the door and door frame, as well as the ring that’s placed at the top of the structure, which allows light to pass through.

The Evolution of the Yurt Throughout the Years

inside a yurtYurts take up a big role in the Central Asian identity, having existed for centuries.

Because of the traveling nature of the Central Asian nomads, yurts have been documented throughout history by the Greeks, Italians, and even the Siberians, who claimed that their lands were the birthplace of the yurt.

The founder of the Mongolian Empire, Genghis Khan, commanded his entire empire from his yurt. Even after being offered the luxury of living in his palace, Genghis Khan refused to live anywhere else except his yurt.

As the Mongolian Empire continued to expand, reaching areas now known as Turkey, Hungary, and Romania, the yurt culture was introduced and later on implemented in these new regions.

Today, the yurt is mostly associated with Mongolia, where over half the population has chosen to continue living in these traditional homes.

Cities have developed “yurt quarters” that are located farther away from the cities and offer an opportunity for people to live a more conventional lifestyle.

Although many of the yurts are connected to the country’s electrical grid, many inhabitants choose to use coal for heating and cooking.

The great consumption of coal has placed the capital of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, in the top ranks of most polluted cities in the world, since coal exhaustion contributes to 80%  of the air pollution.

People in other parts of the world have spent years modifying the original design of the yurt and created a modernized version of the traditional building.

The modern yurt now features high-efficiency curved glass windows, vinyl skylights, and present-day insulation. Instead of the felted wool material that covered the yurts, a mix of marine-quality sailcloth and polyester fabric is being used to cover the wooden framework.

Discover the Yurt Life With Groovy Yurts

Looking for a break from all the chaos of city life?

A Mongolian yurt may just be the solution you’re looking for! The yurt’s unique shape and acoustics will immediately transport you elsewhere, even if your just 30 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Buying a yurt is a big investment, which is why Groovy Yurts offers you the opportunity to rent a yurt and test out the Mongolian way of life.

Contact us today to find out more about yurt living and how you can get started.