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

Traditional YurtsEdit

Traditional yurts consist of a circular wooden frame carrying a felt cover. The felt is made from sheeps' wool. The timber to make the external structure is not to be found on the treeless steppes, and must be obtained by trade in the valleys below.

The frame consists of one or more lattice wall-sections, a door-frame, roof poles and a crown. Some styles of yurt have one or more columns to support the crown. The (self-supporting) wood frame is covered with pieces of felt. Depending on availability, the felt is additionally covered with canvas and/or sun-covers. The frame is held together with one or more ropes or ribbons. The structure is kept under compression by the weight of the covers, sometimes supplemented by a heavy weight hung from the center of the roof. They vary regionally, with straight or bent roof-poles, different sizes, and relative weight.

A yurt is designed to be dismantled and the parts carried on camels or yaks to be rebuilt on another site.

Western YurtsEdit

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 in the 1960s[1], after he was inspired to build them by an article about Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas's visit to Mongolia[2].

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.

Yurts in CampingEdit

While different groups and individuals use yurts for a variety of purposes, from full-time housing to school rooms, they are becoming a common fixture of camp lodging in at many campgrounds in the United States and Canada.

ReferencesEdit

  1. YurtPeople.com - History of North American Yurts, webpage, retrieved February 9, 2007
  2. Article at Alternatives Magazine on North American Yurts, webpage, retrieved February 9, 2006

External linksEdit

Background InformationEdit

Yurt ConstructionEdit




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