|The Mongolian Yurt|
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Ansgar and Tanja Heyer have erected an original mongolian yurt from our
first transport in their garden in the
bavarian Ammer Valley.
Ansgar kindly sent us an illustrated report of their experiences:
Our garden runs down a quite noticeable slope (ca. 10%). This kept me away from the temptation to set the yurt directly on the lawn, and I had to think about ways to better prepare the building site.
Various possibilities were available:
Of course, you con't really need to set yourself the goal of doing everything manually... I had designed and worked the rest of the garden all by myself up to this point, but I don't think I would try this part again: Move about 8 tons of soil by wheelbarrow, and then fill the space with 30 tons of fine gravel over several weeks... Quite a few times I felt that the work would never end - on the other hand there's also an incredible satisfaction in continuing the remaining work on this place that I created with my own hands.
I actually thought it would be much more complicated! In my opinion, you'd have to be at least four people and would need a full weekend, but my wife and I together took only a total of about 6 hours. And we were doing it for the first time in our lifes. We used 3 hours for the frame on a friday (until it became too dark), and another 3 hours the following saturday for the cover. The interior decoration (laying out the carpet, placing the furniture, etc.) isn't included in those 6 hours, though.
But two people assembling a yurt should definitively be a good team! And at least one of them should be tall and sturdy enough to hold the center poles with the crown, while the partner fixes the roof poles. Everything should be done with lots of feeling! Normally my motor activity is rather coarse, but it takes little time to recognize: Brute force is the wrong tool almost everywhere! And hectical activity will not make anything easier!
The video, the images, and the descriptions by Chuluun-Erdene Sosorbaram
were completely sufficient for us to assemble the yurt.
(Note by the webmaster: The video is available on request.)
When assembling the lattice walls: First lay the first two on the floor next to each other with the concave side up. Cross the ends into each other correctly, and connect them loosely with the string. Now those two segments can stand on their own, which makes it possible to connect the following ones one after the other. With this method, even one person alone can assemble the walls.
After that, position the door in the remaining gap, and fix it with the ends of the string at the inner side.
Now you can measure the height of the door frame with a roof pole. The top ends(!) of the lattices should have approximately the same hight. Just walk around the yurt a few times, and try to establish a circular shape, and stretch or push the walls to level their hight. It doesn't have to be 100% accurate, but should fit to about 5cm.
Now tighten the straps a little bit, tighten the ropes connecting the lattice segments, and start inserting the roof poles into the crown as shown in the video. This works best if the roof poles are always inserted opposite to each other. This way it is easy to recognize whether the circle is too small or too big. Don't panick if the roof poles sit relatively loose despite tightening the straps - as long as they don't fall out. The second set of straps added after covering the yurt will add a lot of force to hold them together.
From this point on the rest is just fun! Fold the roof lining, throw it up, unfold it, and tie it up on all sides. Then add the felt wall pieces and tie them to the crown. (correction by the webmaster: The ropes at the corners of the wall felt pieces should be pulled in an arc over the roof poles to the opposite wall, instead of straight up to the crown).
After that, fold the felt pieces for the roof, throw them up, unfold and straighten them. The correct folding is crucial for these steps! First lay out the pieces on flat ground (right side up), then repeatedly fold from the sides to the center - this makes the unfolding on top of the yurt very easy [see the video].
Now install the two pieces of the rain coat on the yurt using the same technique - watch out for the helpful arrows the yurt builders painted on them! Ignoring those signs was the only trap we fell for...
Now thow the decorative cotton cover over everything and knot the outer straps made of horse hair to the rings at the side of the door. Don't for get to pull the uppermost of the three straps very tight! It will stabilize those roof poles that might have been a little loose before, because it is placed a little higher than the inner strap.
Yet another tip for cooking in the yurt:
A large wok is ideal! The wood stove creates exactly the heat required by this cooking utensil! perfect!
(Note by the webmaster: From now on, we'll carry a number of mongolian cooking pots with each transport, which have the same shape as a wok.)
This question almost answers itself, once you're sitting in a yurt yourself! But unfortunately only few Europeans have this possibility...
Of course you don't need a yurt!
You don't need it exactly as you don't need a garden!
You don't need it exactly as you don't need a good glass of red wine!
You don't need it exactly as you don't need the 5 minutes it takes to quietly watch a sunset.
But if you can imagine how great it is to sit in the garden with a glass of red wine, quietly enjoying the sunset, then you can also imagine why you "need" a yurt.
My work is currently engaging me very much, and I started to feel a slight amount of stress. Of the yurt I hoped that it would bring me at least a little bit of relaxation? Reality exceeded this expectaion by a huge margin!
The feeling of sitting in a yurt is very different from the feeling of sitting both in a tent or in a massive house! You are sitting in fresh air, and notice even strong wind only because the smoke exhaust pipe vibrates a little bit. The circular shape makes you feel very sheltered. It is fascinating to be surrounded by this ingeniously simple, hand made structure, which basically only consist of natural materials: Wood and felt (and a little cotton). There are no screws and no nails - all together you may find about 200g of metal in a yurt - the door hinges and a few hooks. Everything is connected by ropes - some of them braided from horse hair.
And it is a wonderful experience to cook on the yurt stove! If you like cooking with a wok, you'll be delighted! The strong and fast head can't be reached with any heating plate or gas stove. And with the open crown the steam can escape without a problem.
Images and text of this page Copyright 2005 Ansgar Heyer, translated from German by Georg Mischler