The Ger has been the main habitation
of Central Asian nomads for thousands of years and continues to be the main
form of dwelling in the Mongolian steppe. These structures are known in many
parts of the world by their Russian name, yurt, while in Mongolia these sturdy,
attractive homes are called Ger.
A ger is easy to assemble, dismantle
and carry. Depending on the size, a yurt can be assembled or dismantled in
anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours. After dismantling, the various
parts of the yurt are loaded onto camels, horses and ox carts for transport.
Today it fits nicely on a small all-terrain vehicle. As nomadic herders
move at least three or four times a year in the search for good grazing lands,
this feature is of essential importance.
Ger is warm enough to keep the coldest
winter temperatures at bay and strong enough to withstand strong winds and the
demands of a whole family.
A ger has an opening in the center of
the roof, which is called the crown or Toono. Because the crown is located at
the top, fresh air regularly circulates through the yurt as cold air flows down
and hot air flows upward.
The highlands and open plains of
Mongolia are quite windy. On the open steppes and in desert regions, the wind
can be strong enough to knock over any other type of portable dwelling. The circular
shape of the yurt and secure manner in which the outer covering is attached
deflect these winds and do not affect the yurt’s stability, regardless of the
direction from which the wind originates.
The yurt or ger is probably the most
practical temporary dwelling available, being:
- Portable- a nine foot yurt will fit in
the back of the smallest car, and can be carried in a wheelbarrow.
- Secure- the yurt can be fitted with a
lockable wooden door. An entry cannot be gained even if the canvas is cut.
- Weather proof- the yurt has proven
itself in the harsh climate of central Asia for centuries. Warm in winter, with
a relatively low roof, it is easy to heat. Insulating layers can be sandwiched
between the frame and the cover. Cool in summer, the sides can be rolled up, or
removed to admit a cooling breeze. Hot air rises out through the open Toono,
and cool air is drawn in.
- Inconspicuous- despite having ample
headroom, the overall height of the structure is low, allowing it to be easily
screened from unwanted attention.
- Easy to erect- with a little practice
the yurt can be erected or taken down in less than thirty minutes, even by one
- Environmentally friendly- coppicing of
hazel, ash and willow to provide poles, is good for the tree and woodland
wildlife. All timbers are from the local community forest. The yurt is a low
impact dwelling, causing no permanent damage to the land on which it is
pitched. It can even be moved every few days to prevent the grass from being
- Long lasting- the yurt can stand
outside for several years without harm, if used occasionally it should last
indefinitely. In Mongolia the frame is expected to last a lifetime.