Interesting Facts about Mongolian Gers
We are often asked lots of questions about gers (or yurts). So we put together this list of 10 Interesting Facts about Gers.
1) The word ‘ger’ is Mongolian for home – the word ‘yurt’ comes from the old Turkish for ‘dwelling place’.
2) The ger and the yurt differ slightly in structure – the roof wheel or crown (tono) in a ger is heavier and the roof ribs (uni) are straight. In a yurt, the uni bend down at the wall junction and the roof shape is steeper than a ger.
3) The lattice wall sections (khana) of gers are made from a light pliable wood like birch, poplar or willow and tied together with strips of leather.
4) The tono is an open wooden ring which allows air to circulate and the chimney to pass through. Both the tono and the door are traditionally painted orange and richly decorated with symbolic patterns, and are often handed down for generations. The khana and felt may be replaced, but the tono and the door may last for years.
5) The wooden lattice structure is first wrapped with a thin cover and then insulated with layers of felt – made from the wool of sheep, goats or yaks – before a final covering of canvas or cotton is laid over.
6) The orientation of the ger is symbolically important to Mongolians. It is regarded as the center of the universe, as well as a microcosm within it. The entrance always faces south towards the sun, the north is the most special place, for sacred objects and honoured visitors. The west side is the male side, where the men sit and where their tools, saddles, and hunting kit are stored. The east is the female side, where the women sit and where their cooking utensils are kept.
7) It is customary to move “sunwise,” that is in a clockwise direction inside the ger. It is also polite to leave a ger by backing out of it.
8) Depending on the size of a ger, it can easily be collapsed, dismantled and packed away in a few hours ready for transporting to a new location.
9) In most gers, you will find a blue sash (hadag) hanging from the center of the tono which has been blessed by a Buddhist priest. It promises happiness, peace, and love.
10) The earliest record of a ger can be found in the writings of the Greek historian Herodotus (484 – 424 BC) describing the dwellings of the Scythians, a nomadic equestrian people who roamed the steppes of central Eurasia.
You can read more about ger etiquette on our website. Meanwhile, keep your eyes peeled and wherever you are, Spot the Ger!!