Here is a free copy of my book Build your own
yurt, written in 1995, It has been used by a great many
people who have built their own yurts. Our designs have
progressed enormously since 1995. For a much more comprehensive
guide see The Complete Yurt Handbook
or see the rest of our
A complete guide to making a Mongolian
by P.R. King
First edition 1995, Second edition 1997.
Third edition, revised, updated, and expanded. 1997.
Copyright © 1995, 1997, 1998 all rights reserved.
ISBN 09531763 0 4
Fully revised and expanded for 1998
Internet Edition Jan 2000
The English word Yurt comes from the Russian Yurta
describing a circular trellis walled framed tent. The
Russian word Yurta is derived from a Turkic word describing
a camping ground. The roof is supported by a conical
or domed frame consisting of a number of ribs radiating
from a central wooden wheel to the top of the wall trellis.
The yurt is traditionally covered with felt, made by
beating and rolling wet sheep fleece. There are three
main types of yurt:
The Kirgiz yurt with bent-wood roof
poles and crown and a domed overall shape. Used by the
Turkish speaking kirgiz, Kazak, Uzbek, and Turkmen people.
The two tiered yurt with a pointed
roof and two layers of wall section placed one on top
of the other. Used by the Uzbek, and Arab peoples of
The Mongol or Kalmuk ger with straight
roof poles, a heavy timber crown, often supported by
two upright poles, and fitted with a wooden door. It
is this type of yurt that will be described in this
The Mongolian Ger (describing a Mongolian's tent as
a yurt may offend his/her national pride) is a versatile
dwelling with a proven pedigree, being home to the nomads
of central Asia for many centuries. The oldest complete
yurt yet discovered was in a 13th century grave in the
Khentei Mountains of Mongolia. Discoveries at Pazaryk,
Southern Siberia indicate that the technology to make
yurts was in use during the 4th century BC. The BBC
Horizon series "Ice Mummies" suggests that
yurts were in use at this time. Throughout this time
the design has changed little, the ger being perfectly
suited to a nomadic lifestyle in one of the worlds most
inhospitable climates, with high winds rain and snow,
where winter temperatures regularly fall to -50ºC.
To this day it is still the preferred home to the majority
of Mongolian people, the suburbs of the capital Ulaan
Baatar consist entirely of gers. The use of the other
two yurt types has declined greatly this century.
This proven design is equally well suited to the many
uses for moveable dwellings in this country. The yurt
can be insulated for winter use, the sides rolled up
to admit a cooling breeze on hot days.
On clear nights one can lie in bed and watch the stars
through the open crown. On wet nights there is plenty
of room for a group of friends to sit in comfort around
a warm stove, tell stories and listen to the storm outside.
The atmosphere inside the yurt is one of warm, secure,
solidity, while from the outside the yurt radiates a
Figure 1. Oxen carrying Kirgiz yurt and furnishings
(after Murray, 1936)