"Their huts or tents are formed of rods
covered with felt, and being exactly round, and nicely put together,
they can gather them into one bundle and make them up as packages, which
they carry along with them in their migrations, upon a sort of car with
four wheels." Marco Polo, (1254-1329). The Travels.
Translated by W. Marsden (1818). (King, 10)
The name "Ger" is Mongolian for tent. Mongolians are a nomadic peoples and they needed a residence that could be moved easily. According to Kuehn, the nomadic sheep and yak herding communities migrate from the mountains to the plains, in the fall, and back to the mountains, in the spring following the grass for their grazing animals. During this time, the Ger may be moved as many as nine (9) times, which enable the Mongolians to survive in the farthest reaches of Outer Mongolia where even the summers are cold. What the nomadic peoples came up with was the Ger, a round, squat, extremely portable tent. The typical diameter of a Ger, even today, is around 30ft. and about 7ft high in the middle. The reason it is so big is the whole family reside within it. The Ger, or more commonly the Yurt, that is used within the SCA is around 14ft in diameter. The construction methods are the same, no matter how large the Ger is. In the following pages, construction methods for a 12ft Ger will be discussed. The Ger will also contain 40 Uni, or Roof Rafters, a 3' Tono, or Center Ring, and a basic Board and Batten Door. There will also be variations listed if a Yurt is built instead of a Ger.
According to King, the evolution of the modern Ger probably began with a tipi like structure in prehistoric times. This structure is still used by reindeer breeders in Northern Mongolia and Siberia. The next step in the evolution of the Ger occurred when a simple wall was formed by crossing poles and also by adding some simple bent roof poles. In the time of Genghis Khan (1162-1227AD), Ger were permanently mounted on a cart so that it could be moved, quite easily, to the next spot. As time went on, the tono changed and drastically changed the overall shape of the Ger. Instead of having a very simple tono, which gave the Ger a steep roof profile, a larger tono was now used and has given the Ger a relatively gentle sloping roof.
Virtues of Ger
Taken from the book, The Complete Yurt Handbook.
Ger are Portable. A 14ft Ger can easily be carried in a small car or SUV.
Ger are Secure. Due to the design of the lattice walls and the addition of a wooden door, entry into the Ger, even if the Canvas is cut, is extremely difficult.
Ger are Stable. Once set up, a Ger feels more like a building than a tent. During the crazy swirling storm of death at Pennsic XXXIX, the two Ger that myself and my good friend Date Saburou Yukiie had set up, did not suffer any ill effects from the storm; where as, the European Pavilions, tents, and two of our Easy-ups were strewn everywhere.
Ger are Weatherproof. Twenty-five centuries in the harsh Mongolian Plains is enough to prove the weather-proofness of the Ger.
Ger are Warm in winter. With the addition of a small centrally located stove, the ger is quite warm in the winter. The reason is in the design. A ger is round with a relatively low roof.
Ger are Cool in the summer. Again, it is due to its design. The sides can be rolled up, a few inches, to create a cooling breeze to form within the ger.
Ger are Inconspicuous. Most ger, because of its low roof (averaging around 7ft), can be hidden behind a small bush.
Ger are Easy to Erect. Two people can easily erect a Ger. I have one that one person and safely erect all by themselves.
Ger are Easy to Move. With the help of a couple of friends, an already pitched Ger can be moved.
Ger are Inexpensive. With a little imagination, the overall cost of a Ger can be as low as $500.
Ger are Easy to Build. Anyone with basic knowledge of woodworking and sewing can build a Ger.
Ger are Environmentally Friendly. The ger is a low-impact dwelling and causes no long term damage to the land in which it is pitched. If moved every few days, even the grass underneath it will not be killed.
Ger are Long Lasting. Once the wood is protected from the elements, using paint or a waterproof sealer, the Ger will last a lifetime or more. All the components can be easily repaired or replaced when needed.
Ger are Fun. Live in one and you will understand.
Parts of a Ger
The various parts of a Ger include:
The Khana, or Wall Frame.
The Tono, or Ring.
The Bagana, or Ring Supports.
The Uni, or Roof Poles.
All these parts will be discussed in the following pages.
The Complete Yurt Handbook. Paul King. Eco-Logic, Bath. 2001
Mongolian Cloud Houses: How To Make a Yurt and Live Comfortably. Dan Frank Kuehn. Shelter Pulications, California. 2006