Ideally suited to Mongolia’s nomadic way of life and harsh weather, the Ger has been the most popular dwelling for hundreds of years.
A round wooden-framed felt tent covered in durable white canvas seems to be the most simple description of this portable home. The modern shape of the Mongolian Ger has been formed as the result of the long development through huts, marquees and wheeled abodes. During ancient times, people made shelters from dry branches and animal skins. This could have been the first version of current Mongolian Ger. The history of the Ger goes back to 2500-3000 years BC. In medieval era large Gers that belong to kings and nomadic chieftains were built on special wheeled floors and were dragged by a number of oxen (22 at usual). The Mongolian Ger has two key component: the wooden frame work and the felt cover. The wooden wall shell is called ‘khana’, the upper wooden poles (measuring 1.5-3 meters) are ‘uni’, the central supporting two columns are known as ‘bagana’ and the uppermost smoke hole is ‘toono’. A Ger has 4-12 khanas, depending on its size. The number of uni or upper poles ranges between 45 and 120 depending on the number of khanas. Any ger has a toono ,the smoke hole and baganas, 2 columns supporting the toono. There are several felt layers, covering the wooden framework and outer white canvas which is designed to make the Ger look prettier and protect the felt covers from rain and snow. Mongolian nomads, who move several times each year, pack their Gers onto the back of camels or camel and ox carts. The weight of a ger is approximately 250kg-s.It only takes half an hour to collapse an average ger and a bit longer to re-build it.
Assembling a ger
- The collapsible wooden floor is laid.
- The khanas and the door are erected in a circle and tied together with a long rope.
- Baganas, the two wooden columns are tied to the toono and erected in the center of the circle.
- The toono and upper edges of the khanas are connected with unis, the long thin poles.
- Once the wooden framework has been erected directly on the ground or wooden floor, it is overlaid with the felt cover, as well as, the outer white canvas;
- Then the felt and canvas covers are fastened with 2-3 girdles that keep them tight.
- The outer bottom edges of the flaps are covered with a long thin felt belt (30 cm-s wide) so that strong wind flow doesn’t go into the Ger.
- The uppermost smoke hole is partly covered with rectangle felt cover, which is used to totally cover the hole during the nights and harsh climate.