Yurt

Yurt

[yoort]
A yurt is a portable, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structure used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.

Etymology and synonyms

The word yurt is originally from the Turkic word meaning "dwelling place" in the sense of "homeland"; the term came to be used in reference to the physical tent-like structures only in other languages. In Russian the structure is called "yurta" (юрта), whence the word came into English.

In Kazakh (and Uyghur) the term for the structure is kiyiz üy (киіз үй, lit. "felt home"). In Kyrgyz the term is boz üý (боз үй), literally "grey house", because of the colour of the felt. In Mongolian it is called a ger (гэр). Afghans call them "Kherga"/"Jirga" or "ooee". In Pakistan it is also known as gher (گھر).

Symbolism

The wooden lattice crown of the yurt (тооно, toono; Шаңырақ, shangyraq; түндүк, tunduk) is itself emblematic in many Central Asian cultures. In old Kazakh communities, the yurt itself would often be repaired and rebuilt, but the shangrak would remain intact, passed from father to son upon the father's death. A family's length of heritage could be measured by the accumulation of stains on the shangrak from generations of smoke passing through it. A stylized version of the crown is in the center of the Coat of arms of Kazakhstan, and forms the main image on the flag of Kyrgyzstan.

Western yurts

Enthusiasts in other countries have taken the visual idea of the yurt -- a round, semi-permanent tent -- and have adapted it to their cultural needs. Although those structures may be copied to some extent from the originals found in Central Asia, they have been greatly changed and adapted and are in most cases very different.

In the United States and Canada, yurts are made using hi-tech materials. They are highly engineered and built for extreme weather conditions. In addition, erecting one can take days and they are not intended to be moved often. Often the designs of these North American yurts barely resemble the originals; they are better named yurt derivations, because they are no longer round felt homes that are easy to mount, dismount and transport. North American yurts and yurt derivations were pioneered by William Coperthwaite (founder of the Yurt Foundation) in the 1960s, after he was inspired to build them by an article about Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas's visit to Mongolia.

In Europe, a closer approximation to the Mongolian and Central Asian yurt is in production in several countries. These tents use local hardwood, and often are adapted for a wetter climate with steeper roof profiles and waterproof canvas. In essence they are yurts, but some lack the felt cover that is present in traditional yurt.

Different groups and individuals use yurts for a variety of purposes, from full-time housing to school rooms. In some provincial parks in Canada, and state parks in several US states, permanent yurts are available for camping.

See also

References

External links

Background Information

Yurt Construction

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