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Yurt --- The Movable House

Mongol has a deep affection for songs, which mirror their basic necessities of life in food, clothing, shelter and transport. There came down an ancient folk song in the eastern grassland of Mongolia which depicts their traditional house--- yurt---vividly:

Imitating the shape of the blue sky,
It has a round-round top;
Coping the color of the white cloud,
It is made of woolen felt blanket.
That's the vault---
The family of our Mongolia.

Summer encampmentImitating the shape of the sky,
The skylight became the symbol of the sun;
Imitating the constellations of celestial bodies,
The droplight became the round shape of the moon.
That's the vault---
The family of our Mongolia.   

It is the nomads' traditional way of life to live where there is water and grass and yurt is the product of nomad way of life. The song above vividly depicts the figure and the color of the yurt as well as its origin. Even until today, the melodious song is still sung all over the summer encampment pasturelands.

"Yurt" is the name of the Mongolian nomads' traditional house used by Manchu, which came into using in Qing Dynasty. "Bao", means "home" or "house" in Manchu language. Beforehand, a yurt was called as "the vault of sky", "felt tent" or "felt bag".

Gusting in a YurtThe yurt takes on a round figure, big or small, whereas the basic construction is the same--- including "Hana", the wall plaited with reticulations; bars of wooden edge; "Wuni", and the round skylight as well as the gate. Besides, there is felt covered outside, which to be tightened by mane ropes. The specification of the yurt is determined by the amount of the plaiting-wall (generally it is150 or 160 centimeter high, and two meter long) of each yurt. For instance, the specifications of a yurt may have four-leaf, six-leaf, eight-leaf, ten-leaf, twelve-leaf, eighteen-leaf and twenty-four-leaf and so on. Commonly, most nomads live in the six-leaf or eight-leaf yurt. The process of building up the yurt is very simple--- first select a terrain, pave the domain ready, then set up the gate of the yurt, prop the stand and the plaiting-wall, tie up the inside waistband, prop up the round wooden housetop, insert a rafter, carpet a felt inside, enclose the plaiting-wall felt and the top lining felt, cover the housetop with a set of felts, tie up the waistband outside, hang up the curtain of the skylight, enclose the felt at the bottom, and at last tighten firmly with a hair-rope. It is done.  

The gateway of a yurt is always face to the southeast. Inside the yurt, there place a cooking range in the middle for cooking, drinking and keeping warm. A chimney stretches out through the skylight. A cowhide, a woolen felt or a carpet is always spread round the cooking range. The living rooms at the right and the western side are for seniors, while the eastern side rooms are for juniors. The furniture around are mainly wooden cupboard, cabinet, crate and desk, which characterized by smallness, lowness, little occupation, convenience for move as well as not easy to be damaged. Although a yurt looked very small in appearance, the space inside is very large. Besides, the air inside is well circulated (except a skylight, there is a slayer of felt spread at the bottom of the plaiting-wall, which can be lifted up for ventilation in summer and lay down for keeping warm in winter). While keeping cool in summer and warm in winter, a yurt really has a good condition for day-lighting as well as can withstand natural calamities.

A facility of demolition and building up as well as the convenience of moving are the most advantages a yurt possess. Undraw the Hana to form a fencing wall when building, whereas fold the Hana up when demolishing so that it is smaller and can be used as a board on a carriage or a oxcart. Easily Built up in two or three hours, a yurt is suitable for nomadic tribes, who often graze sheep and cattle, to live in; as it can be carried away only by two camels or a light wooden cart.

Recent years, the structures and materials of a yurt are also improved. Steel framework came into appearance in some area. Moreover, windows are opened both in the front and the back to achieve a better effect of daylighting and air circulation as well. Various daily necessities of modern life, such as bed, television, radio, etc. are also put into the yurt. The ancient art of Mongol's architecture is radiating fresh vigor again.


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