The interest in the dwellings of nomads remains undiminished. History demonstrates its popularity and relevance even in modern times, as even certain technological innovations seamlessly integrate into the nomadic way of life.
What is a yurt in Kyrgyzstan?
A yurt is a dome-shaped dwelling used by nomads and is also one of the key symbols of the Kyrgyz worldview. It is an integral part of their way of life and the primary symbol of nomadic culture.
The core of a yurt consists of a wooden frame, assembled from several components: folding lattice walls called "kerge," a dome constructed from wooden poles known as "uuk," and a wooden door frame called "bosogo." At the top, there is an opening formed by the "tundyuk," which serves as a chimney for the hearth and a source of natural light. This opening can be covered with a piece of felt during the night or in inclement weather. Around the walls, a layer of felt made from sheep's wool is installed, and then the entire frame is covered with felt pieces. Yurts are assembled without a single nail, and they are wrapped and adorned with felt, which insulates against cold in winter and provides relief from the heat in summer.
Division of a yurt:
The yurt is divided into an honorable area, a male side, a female side, and a threshold. To the right of the entrance lies the female half, called "epchi jak" (epchi meaning woman in ancient Turkic). This area is used for storing food supplies, kitchenware, and household utensils. Typically, all of this is concealed from prying eyes with a decorative screen made of juniper branches called "ashkan chiy."
The opposite side of the yurt, known as the "er jak," is the male section. Here, you can find saddles, weapons, harnesses, animal skins, and tools used by livestock herders. In the nomadic times, newborn lambs and kids were also kept here.
Inside the yurt, a felt carpet is laid on the earthen floor, and on top of it, sheepskins and narrow blankets called "tyoshok" are placed. In the honored place, there lies an ornate felt carpet known as "shyrdak" or "alakiyiz." The yurt's walls are adorned with embroidered carpets called "tushkiyiz." The interior is complemented by patterned ribbons that secure the lattice walls, hanging shelves, woven saddlebags called "kurjuni," and wooden chests intricately carved.
Throughout history, all items used in the nomadic way of life served not only their practical purposes but also aesthetic functions. They were elegantly decorated with national ornaments, leather goods were adorned with decorative patterns through embroidery or tooling. Harnesses, saddles, and other items were adorned with silver or silver-plated elements, using inlays and enamels. All of these patterns reflected the world of the nomad and served as protective symbols for the home and its inhabitants. Each pattern held its own meaning in safeguarding the household.
Yurt in modern life of kyrgyz people: .
In modern Kyrgyzstan, yurts are encountered frequently. The life of a Kyrgyz livestock herder unfolds between the "ail" (village in the valley) during the winter and the "jailoo" (mountain pasture) during the summer. In the village, they have a house, while in the jailoo, they take a yurt with them.
Kyrgyz yurt construction
You have the chance to be witness the construction of yurts by local craftsmen in the village of Kyzyl-Tuu. Kyzyl-Suu is the sole village where yurts are manufactured to serve the entire nation of Kyrgyzstan. Local craftsmen in Kyzyltuu have experience in creating high-quality yurts and can provide unique details and decorations during the process of setting up a yurt.
Location: Kyzyl-Tuu village.
Duration of the event: 1-2 hours.
Show dates: Upon request.
Should know before overnight in a yurt: