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A Yurt (蒙古包) is a portable, felt-covered, wood lattice-framed dwelling structure used by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.
Etymology and synonyms
The word yurt is originally from the Turkic word meaning "dwelling place" in the sense of "homeland"; the term came to be used in reference to the physical tent-like structures only in other languages. In Russian, the structure is called "yurta" (юрта). (There is an obsolete term "kibitka" (кибитка).) From Russian, the word came into English, and is also the basis for the term horde, meaning encampment, palace (ultimately from the Turkic ordu, orda ).
In Kazakh (and Uyghur) the term for the structure is kiyiz üy (киіз үй, lit. "felt home"). In Kyrgyz the term is "boz üý" (боз үй), literally "grey house", because of the colour of the felt. In Mongolian it is called a ger (гэр). Afghans and Pakistanis call them "Kherga"/"Jirga" or "ooee". In Pakistan "گہر".
The yurt consists of a circular wooden frame carrying a felt cover. The felt is made from the wool of the flocks of sheep that accompany the pastoralists. The timber to make the external structure is not to be found on the treeless steppes, and must be traded for 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.
It is designed to be dismantled and the parts carried on camels or yaks to be rebuilt on another site.
The wooden lattice crown of the yurt (Kazakh: shangrak) is itself emblematic in many Central Asian cultures. In old Kazakh communities, the yurt itself would often be repaired and rebuilt, but the shangrak would remain intact, passed from father to son upon the father's death. A family's length of heritage could be measured by the accumulation of stains on the shangrak from generations of smoke passing through it. A stylized version of the crown (called tunduk (түндүк) in Kyrgyz) forms the main image on the flag of Kyrgyzstan.
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.
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.
Different groups and individuals use yurts for a variety of purposes, from full-time housing to school rooms. In some provincial parks in Canada, and state parks in several US states, permanent yurts are available for camping.Source(s): Wikipedia