This is where you’ll find a lot of useful information about Mongolian yurts and yurts in general… and even some tips if you’re planning a trip to this amazing country. Please share your links, experiences and ideas. We’ll be glad to post them here! Don’t forget to check our Frequently Asked Questions, as well as the photo gallery and its technical details section. The Mongolian yurt forum: we sponsor a Mongolian yurt forum on www.yurtinfo.org, which is probably the best source of yurt information in North America.

Winter and set-up reminders

Here are a couple reminders so you get the best out of your yurt and a few more so you spend a wonderful winter…

– don’t forget to anchor the toono’s (dome) central rope to a heavy weight or to a ring in your platform if you expect strong winds. This is important! Your yurt could be twisted… or even act as a UFO if you fail to do so!

– make sure the top two outside circling ropes are always tight (especially in Winter)

varnish your exterior wooden parts  (at least once a year) –  ask us if you’re not sure which product to use. TIP: In very sunny or harsh areas, the door paint’s life can be prolounged by adding a canvas cover on the door if you leave your yurt for extended periods.

inspect your toono for any cracks ( mostly on top part) and seal or even reinforce

get rid of excess of snow on the roof. TIP: if you’re leaving your yurt for an extended period in winter, add two provisory bagaanas (central posts) under the toono.

– Make sure you are using the proper house wrap (Weathermate Plus from Dow, Flexgard Aspire from Intertape Polymer Corp. or Novawrap Brand, ASPIRE (TM) Premium Building Wrap) and that it is properly installed. TIP:  add a plywood waning above the door to divert rain (ask us for pictures or advices!)

– canvas can be cleaned and treated – see YURT TIPS below on this page for more info or call us)

– if your yurt is installed properly, you should not have any water infiltration or condensation problems. Call us if you experience any troubles –  close the toono when it’s raining first, 😉

– make sure your platform rim and door are well sealed to the platform (silicone) and the house wrap taped to the door

YURT TIPS

A few yurt tips on canvas, paints, platforms, maintenance and more…

CANVAS and WATERPROOFING Canvas is canvas… its life span is limited and is determined by where it’s situated. Here are a few tricks for water resistance and treatments: – it is recommended to waterproof at least the seams of the Mongolian canvas once a year. Any commercial waterproofing material for canvas can be used, in spray or applied with a brush – for more natural treatments, here are three links that can be useful. we haven’t tried them extensively and welcome any comments Essortment.comxmission.comInfobarrel.com, dryguywaterproofing.com – One of the Mongolian yurt’s quality is to breathe. In very rainy and humid climates, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain breathability while being completely waterproof. In such conditions, we recommend adding a layer of “house wrap” between the felt and canvas. So far, WEATHERMATE PLUS from Dow has shown the best results, while still allowing sufficient breathability. – for more natural solutions, there are other alternatives, like creating an air gap with cedar branches (always between felts and canvas) to create an air gap an avoid the direct contact canvas and felts. – there are more natural (and less natural) options, depending on the situation. Do not hesitate to contact us for more ideas! – although our canvas is good and thin enough to dry faster, we’re still looking for the “miracle canvas”. Until we find it, we offer a 10 year “at cost” warranty on our canvas. So in case you have to change it after a few years, the cost is still lower than vinyl canvas… and still much healthier. – older canvas can be washed (for example with a solution of bleach). They can also be simply painted to prolong their life, although breathability will be affected. If you paint your canvas it is recommended to simply use a cheap latex based paint. PAINT our latest yurts are painted with an eco-friendly water based paint. We strongly recommend protecting exterior parts with a layer of varnish for water based paints (usually latex). We also recommend varnishing doors and toonos for the older oil base painted yurts (not the same type of varnish) and add a layer once every few years. Ask us in case of doubt about the paint. PLATFORMS – Groovyyurts sells wonderful Canada made insulated and transportable platforms. We’ll be glad to also provide you with tips for building your own platform. – we ‘ve also done straw bales platforms with a plywood cover that are easy build, insulated, fairly cheap and definitely eco-friendly. – the last addition to the platform alternatives comes from Owen Geiger who suggests an Earth Bag foundation. We haven’t tested it yet, but welcome comments and find the whole concept of earthbag construction very interesting! more tips to be added soon! contact us and share yours!

MONGOLIA: CLIMATE, HISTORY, CULTURE

Mongolia is an amazing country where half of the population still lives year round in a yurt (also known as a ger). Here are a few short facts about the history and way of life:

  • Mongolia is a vast, landlocked country, between Russia and China.
  • Its continental climate is one of the world’s most extreme: extremely cold winters, hot summers, high winds… but mostly blue skies!
  • Almost a third of Mongolians are still nomads who herd sheep, horses, yaks, camels, goats. There are about 10 horses for every person in Mongolia.
  • 800 years ago, the Mongolian emperor Genghis Khan, followed by his sons and grandsons, put together the largest empire ever, including most parts of Asia and some parts of Eastern Europe.
  • Mongolians are mostly Buddhists. A smaller group, the ethnic Kazakhs in the west, is Muslim.
  • Although life in the countryside seems to have remained unchanged for centuries, Mongolians are well educated. Their literacy rate is up to 98% — more than in most occidental countries!
  • Because of harsh conditions, Mongolians have to rely on each other in rural areas. This has contributed to the development of an extremely hospitable culture.
  • Everyone is always welcome in a yurt. To knock on the door would even be considered impolite!  The custom is to call out “Tie up the dogs!” as you approach.
  • One enters the yurt with the right foot. It would bring bad luck to hit or walk on the door frame, since there’s a protective spirit living in it.
  • One walks clockwise in the yurt.
  • The door usually faces south.
  • Men are traditionally seated to the west, women to the east and special guests to the north. The north-facing wall of the yurt (opposite the door) is the most sacred area.
  • For Mongolians, the yurt symbolizes  the universe. They believe the axis of the world  runs down through the toono (central dome) to the centre of the earth.
  • The toono represents the interface between humans and the cosmos, being a passage to the divine world. The bagaanas (central posts) also connect human and divine, earth and sky.
  • Although the wooden parts of the yurt’s structure are often painted orange, the outside of the yurt is usually white, representing purity, good luck and nobility.
  • Women light and care for the fire; they remain silent while doing it.
  • Things are always given to someone with the right hand, with the left hand supporting the right arm, or with both hands.
  • The yurt is not anchored to the ground, in order not to harm the earth.
  • In strong winds, the rope that hangs from the centre of the toono (central dome) is tied to a large rock to anchor the yurt. When not in use, this rope is wound in a serpentine fashion and stored behind the roof rafters (huns) to the north of the yurt, as a symbol of fertility above the parents’ bed.
  • 5-wall yurts are the most common in Mongolia, and house families of 4 to 8 people. They all have 81 huns (roof rafters). 81 is 9×9, nine being a sacred number for Mongolians.
  • There are many more interesting things to say about Mongolia and its people. You might want to visit this fascinating country!

YURT RELATED GOODIES

Yurt t-shirts and other goodies: www.yurtopia.com

YURT ACCESSORIES

some suggestions on yurt equipment, compostable toilets, stoves, … add your tips!…

STOVES : God, we love our Mongolian stoves… but if you do not want to stand up at night, you might consider one of these alternatives: http://www.fourdog.com/ have been used in yurts and recommended and here’s another alternative from a company that seem to share similar groovy values www.Anevay.co.uk www.rocketstoves.com – we haven’t tried it, but it’s definitely worth looking at the system and even if it takes a (very) little building skills, seems to be an amazingly efficient system. Since the above link has been published, we’ve heard some questioning about the effective qualities of the rocket stoves. A very interesting website to consider for more info about wood bruning is: http://woodheat.orgwww.unforgettablefirellc.com: a very interesting and extreemly efficient alternative for smaller yurts or spaces COMPOSTABLE TOILETS : DIY composting toilets: a guide to composting human manure – http://humanurehandbook.com/index.html “a must read, even if your not living in a yurt!” Ecopatron: ecofriendly dry commercial lews without electricity and water more subjects will be added soon! (please share your tips!)

YURT LITERATURE

Find here some reference on interesting yurt books….

Living in the Round, by Becky Kemery is a wonderful and complete source of information about yurts. You can order it directly onwww.yurtinfo.orgIf you want to go deep into details, consider Peter Alford Andrew’s “Nomad tent Types in the Middle East” or “Felt Tents and Pavilions” from the Rug Book Shop

Although a little older, Mongolian Cloud House is another option, especially if you are thinking of building your own yurt.www.shelterpub.com

RESSOURCES IN MONGOLIA

If you are in Mongolia or are planning to get there, here are a few useful links:

For your expeditions in Mongolia, consider. http://www.horseback-mongolia.com/Another good contacts for discovering Mongolia:http://www.cheketours.com/index.php?lang=en

Once you are there, check out the Librairie Papillon (http://www.librairiepapillon.com/). It’s a French library, but that offers a variety of great books about Mongolia in English too. Not far from the Bistro Français… if you want to change a little bit from the airag!

and if you need to ship back your houseold, your yurt, your husband, your yack or anything else to Canada and USA, GroovyYurts offers affordable LCL (Less than container loads) from Ulaanbaatar to Montreal and can organise further forwarding within Canada and USA (best rates during our regular delivery tours).