Friday, November 26, 2010

History and Geography of the Yurt

What better nomadic shelter to first examine than the complex and ingenious yurt. Our friends from Woodland Yurts sums up the history and evolution of the yurt quite nicely.
Nomadic peoples leave few written or archaeological records of their passing. So early evidence of the history of the yurt is hard to find. Bronze age rock etchings from Siberia appear to show yurts in use. Descriptions from ancient travellers and some frozen remains offer hints, but no absolute proof of yurt use. Herodotus (c480-c425 BC) described ger-carts and felt tents being used by the Scythian people. A cart found in a 2500 year old Pazaryck grave in Southern Siberia demonstrate all of the technologies needed to build a yurt were available at that time. But firm evidence from before the time of Ghengis Khan is hard to find.

The evolution of the modern ger almost certainly began in prehistoric times with the urts or buheg; a tipi like structure, still used by the reindeer breeders of Northern Mongolia and Siberia .

Mongolia is the great stronghold of the yurt, where the ger is still home to three-quarters of the population. To the south, the Inner Mongolia region of China is populated by ger-dwellers. To the north, the people of Tuva and the Buryat region of Siberia live in gers. In Eastern Siberia , the reindeer herding Koryak people live in yurt-like yarangas.
The southernmost range of the bentwood yurt, where it is still in common use by nomadic peoples, covers Iran , Iraq , Northern Afghanistan and Pakistan . To the west of Mongolia , in Kazakstan , Kyrgyzstan , Uzbekistan , Tajikistan and North-Eastern China, a region as a whole formerly known as Turkestan , the yurt is the traditional and still popular nomadic dwelling. The national flag of the newly independent Kyrgyzstan depicts a red yurt-crown at its centre.
During the middle-ages the Magyars of Hungary dwelt in yurts, where they are still in occasional use today. Bentwood yurts were used in Central and Eastern Turkey until the 1960s.

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