There are more styles of yurt than you can shake a stick at. Different names, different styles, different materials used in their construction and even different philosophy's behind their use. Some yurts claim to be something they are not, whilst some make no claims at all. With so much variation and hence confusion we would like to offer our thoughts on the most commonly seen yurt styles available.
Mongolian Yurt (Ger)
Correct name is Ger,. Rhymes with mare. A heavy wooden framed yurt that is used for living in by hundreds of thousands of Mongolians today. Closely spaced wall slats that are steamed bent to incorporate a curve at the top, Roof poles are straight but a very specific shape, a round section for three quarters of their length before transitioning to a square section that tapers to a narrow point that fits into the crown wheel. Solid wooden crown wheel, door and door frame. Unique feature are the addition of crown wheel supports. Only genuine Mongolian yurts use these and
no Mongolian would ever think of removing them. Crown supports ensure yurt is stable in windy weather and is capable of supporting large loads such as snow. Mongolian yurts are covered by a unique combination of four material layers. A decorative liner, thick sheep's wool felt insulation, a waterproof layer and a final outer layer to hold everything on.
In 2013 the Traditional craftsmanship of the Mongol Ger and its associated customs were inscribed by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
For sales purposes people will often try to pass these of as Mongolian yurts, they are not, they are Chinese through and through. They are an amalgamation of features from various yurt styles and are constructed in a style typical of Chinese furniture construction. They do not use crown supports as any true Mongolian yurt would. The wall section are made from willow, a soft wood and incorporate a unique double curve not seen on any other yurt style. The roof poles are straight but are typically unpainted.
These yurts are covered in fabric layers that again differ from a traditional Mongolian yurt, The outermost layer is a two piece canvas cover, the design of which is typically seen on yurts made in the West. It is decorated with Chinese designs.
American yurts are the answer to a questions that had not existed before. How do you modernize a yurt? America's answer was to use lots of pressure treated timber, NASA style insulation, high tech welded PVC, acrylic domes and double glazing. What you end up with is a home that is not very portable but certainly yurt shaped. Like most things American it doesn't always travel well.
We feel this is a great use of technical materials, but one that perhaps lacks soul, but it is without doubt a well made
However all that hi-tech comes with a hi-tech price. This is certainly a member of the yurt family and well worth looking at if your circumstances .. and budget suit.
Most UK yurt makers concentrate on the Turkic style of yurt design as shown below. This requires less wood in its construction compared to a Mongolian style yurt. Turkic style yurts do not use crown supports and hence this can cause them to flex and move around a fair amount in high winds. Most companies will use hard woods in their construction and quality of construction is generally high. However hard woods are expensive and hence they do not follow traditional patterns and spacing in order to economize
on wood use. Most yurts come with just a single canvas cover as standard. Liners, felt liners, winter covers and nearly everything else is an additional extra.
Consists of a light bentwood crown, supported by roof poles that are steam bent at one end to meet the top of the trellis wall. This style of yurt does not use crown supports. However on our visits to the West of Mongolia, and speaking to many nomadic Kazakh families, they will often have a long forked stick that they will position in the center of the yurt under the crown wheel in order to provide additional support during very windy or bad weather. Kazakh yurts are still mainly covered in the traditional steppe covering of a single or
multiple layers of felt. These can be highly decorative. These yurts although beautiful when imported to the West do not do well due to the constant wet and damp atmosphere.