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Authentic Mogolian yurt with natural materials



A yurt is a portable, circular dwelling made of a lattice of flexible poles and covered in felt or other fabric. They are a sturdy, reliable type of tent. Yurts have been the primary style of home in Central Asia, particularly Mongolia, for thousands of years. 

The lattice of a traditional yurt is divided into sections, called khana. Each khana is a collapsible series of crisscrossed wooden poles. The poles are made of light wood, such as willow, birch, poplar, or even bamboo. Khana are attached to each other with ropes made of leather or animal hair.


The roof of a yurt is the most complex part of the structure. The central part of the roof is called the crown. The crown is a ring to which roof poles, called uni, are attached. The crown’s pattern of wood, reeds, or fabric can be handed down for generations. The khana and fabric of a yurt may be replaced, but the crown may last for years. 


The crown is partially open, allowing air to circulate and a chimney to penetrate the structure. The circular ceiling window formed by the crown is called the toono, and the columns that sometimes support the heavy crown are called bagana.

Yurt communities are often herding cultures, and the felt that covers the yurt is usually made of wool collected from domesticated sheep, goats, or yaks. Most Authentic Mongolian Yurts have three to five layers of felt, and, often, an outer layer of waterproof fabric such as canvas.


There are two main types of yurts: gers and bentwood yurts. The only difference is their roof. A ger is the older, traditional style of yurt. In fact, "yurt" is a Russian word for what the Mongolian people call ger. The roof of a ger is made of straight poles (uni) attached to the circular crown. Gers have a very gently sloping roof.

Bentwood yurts, sometimes called Turkic yurts, are more common in western Central Asia. Makers of bentwood yurts use steam to bend the roof poles before attaching them to the crown. Uni serve as both the top of the walls as well as the roof of a bentwood yurt. Bentwood yurts usually have a taller, steeper shape.


Modern yurts are popular in North America and Europe, especially in “backcountry” or camp settings. Some consumers choose to use native hardwoods, such as ash or chestnut, for their yurts. More consumers use high-tech material, such as aircraft cables, for a more secure construction. Unlike traditional yurts, these modern yurts are usually meant to be relatively permanent.