PAVILION NOTES--There were many contributors to these discussions, and I would like to give them public thanks and credit for their expertise. Due to the size of this file, I have had to split it into separate pages. To go to a particular topic, click on the links listed below. YURTS/GERS

YURTS/GERS--GENERAL

Build a Yurt: The Low-Cost Mongolian Round House by Len Charney, 1974, Collier Books (a division of Macmillan Publishing), 0-02-079320-0.

Corun My yurt is 16' in diameter, which gives you 201 square feet of floor space. It is 5'8" at the wall, and the center ring is 8' high with no support pole. It takes about 30 minutes to put up (with two people), and I have transported mine in a Renault Encore by putting a heavy-duty roof-rack on top. The rest of my gear, including armor, camping supplies, food, etc., went inside the car. The yurt breaks down into these sections: two wall sections (khana), 30"X 8' X ione inch one door frame, 5'8" X 30" 33 roof poles, 1" X 3" X 8' one center ring, 30" X 4" top canvas, 21' X 21' side canvas, 6' X 50' smoke hole cover, 36" X 36" door curtain, 6' X 4 ' floor tarp I'm too sexy for my yurt, Too sexy for my yurt, So sexy that I hurt.

I'm a Mongol, you know what I mean, And I plunder with a horde 'cross Eurasia. On a pony, yeah, you know what I mean, And I plunder with a horde 'cross Eurasia.

Todric is generally available for consultation on yurt (ger) construction, history, etc. His email address is todric@raex.com.

>Ok, we've heard about Mongolian gers, but what about the ones the Turks used? How are they different? Has anyone researched them? Yurts (or gers, depending on the language), were of a fairly similar design throughout most of the nomadic peoples. Variations that occurred were in the density of the khana wall, i.e. the number of slats or poles used to make up the khana, and in the number and shape of the roof poles. The two most common forms were straight poles and poles that were bent at the end that attached to the khana. In the latter, the poles were of necessity, much longer. The pole was planed flat at that end for about 24" or so, and then bent, so that the flat end was then lashed to the khana where two pole came together to form a "v". This added about 18" or so to the overall height at the khana, so that a tall person could stand easily at the wall. This also gave the roof a dome shape, and the felt used to cover the roof was made like a large cap, sometimes with "belt loops" attached to allow a wide strap of woven yarn to be pulled through in order to hold it down better. Of course, other straps were thrown over the structure as well so that one didn't rely on only one strap to hold things together.

This sort of yurt is very tall inside, nearly 15' high at the roof ring. The ring itself was also very wide, nearly 56" in diameter. Needless to say, this type of yurt would require more than one person to erect.

--Another crucial piece you're missing, which is also period, is the belly band. I use an 18" wide strip of canvas with grommets at the four corners, that wraps around the entire yurt on the outside, holding down the roof canvas and acting as an additional stabilizer for the whole yurt. I have ropes in the for grommets and tie these to the door frame. The band would normally have been of woven, multicolored heavy yarn, as would all of the ties used to hold the yurt together. I saw two examples of Yurts that had one other helpful item that the people at the Kazakistan (sp) Embassy say is period. The roof has belt loops sewed around the edge. This keeps the roof edge from slipping out in wet windy weather.

N.B. any tent with vertical walls : IMHO, tall walls serve only as better sails to catch the wind. No wall should ever be more than 78" (6'6") tall (standard door height: tall people are used to ducking under it). It's really a pain to hang 7'+ high walls, especially for non-tall people. My gher has 5' walls and a 10' peak height, and it work great: put chests around the edge and people can sit on them, plenty of head room in the center. The shorter walls also make the interior look larger. And, people have to duck to get through the door, so if they are enemies they are more vulnerable, and if they are not, they have to bow to you to enter your tent :-). I mainly went with short walls because that's what Mongols used, but still, keep all this in mind, eh

This may or maynot be of any interest but I just saw the coolest thing at a war last weekend,... a yurtlet. Or at least that is what we called it. A family has a large yurt. Their daughter wanted some space of her own. So she built some. The yurt is tall enough for an adult man to stand up with just the tip of his hat barely visible. (Chang's fur thing looked *quite* amusing peeking out. It packs up practically into a duffle bag. The young artisan in question, I overheard, researched and designed it herself and got credit for both shop class and her social studies class. (She looked about grade 7? 6 maybe?Tres cool if I do say so myself.(Of course the fighter in me wants it for a armour pavillion to give me more room in my sleeping tent. <sigh>)

The 1560s tent sounds interesting, and I should much appreciate it if you could send me the reference so that I could check. In principle I would be suspicious of an Turkish tent that purports to have straight struts, except for light travelling tents, of which there were several kinds among some tribal groups in C.Asia, as for example the Qazaq. So far as I know the Ottomans generally followed the Turkmen model, with curved struts forming the dome, but there are one or two hybrid types shown in miniatures, about whose structure we know too littel to be sure. A colleague of mine, Hedda Reindl-Kiel, has recently been working on the Ottoman archival material relating to these (very little published as yet), but it's written in a terrible script called siyah hat, and she relies on me quite a lot for interpretations. These are mostly tent store lists, and therefore don't convey precise descriptions. Ottoman decoration on wood is usually on a red ground with gold, green and blue arabesques, and sometimes blue cartouches for contrast. The blue is lapis lazuli, the red crimson, and the green vine green. You could get an idea by looking at Ottoman bows. A little such work has survived in mosques here and there, but has not, to my knowledge, been published. Dr. Peter-Alford Andrews

YURTS/GERS --INTERIOR FURNISHINGS/FINISHINGS --

I've seen several yurts done with decorative cloth attached on the inside of the dwelling, hung on the khana so that the wood itself didn't show. Has anyone any documentation for this? For any particular kinds of furnishings?

--What Kyle may be referring to are the layered "appliqué & cutwork" felt rugs made by some Mongol tribes. These are thinner felt panels (same weight of felt as is used for boot liners and indoor slippers) dyed various colors and stitched together in layers, then cutout shapes reveal the layers/colors below and the whole piece is enhanced by embroidery. These rugs were used on floors, but also were hung on walls, over doors, and used as bedcovers. Hung on walls they would definitely be an added protection against winter winds (but in summer simple reed screens are hung around the walls just to keep out dust and bugs...). I've seen these rugs in pictures and in person (at the Smithsonian) and even made a couple. They are a good use of extra felt to small or too thin to use for Yurt covers and the layering gives them both strength and warmth as well as a way to mix colors. Often the felt walls of the gers had four (or so) inch wide bands of woven yarn stitched to the top corners. These were very long and were thrown over the roof to be tied to the khana opposite where the felt wall was hanging These multicolored bands would crisscross over the roof poles and under the felt roof making a pleasing looking pattern against the white felt. I believe this is the more period practice but have no documentation to support it. *(from CORUN)

YURTS/GERS --ASSEMBLY -->Can a yurt be set up with only one person?... I might be switching to a yurt... and if so how easy is it to set up , and how windproof/sturdy is a yurt since there are no stakes

Actually, yes they can. I can set up my 15' diameter Ger(actual Mongolian for yurt) in 45 min by myself. It takes tripoding the roof ring up after the walls are set and specially folding the roof so it can be unfolded on the roof but it is possible. It also transports in our 6' bed of a Nissan pickup(transports easily.) Don't worry about the sturdiness of it. Remember that these things were developed by a people who live on the steppe and in the desert, where you have to deal with lots of wind from time to time and no place to dig in. This Pennsic, during the almost-tornado (the vortex kept trying to form), all I did to add some security to my yurt was to put in three stakes right alongside the yurt wall and loop a rope over the top three times. This wasn't really needed, but it's like chicken soup, it couldn't hurt. ;-) As for sturdy, I've pulled myself up to the roof ring from the poles without the center support poles in place, and I weigh in at around 175. I've even been on the roof from the outside, though it's not something I recommend doing regularly. --The short answer is yes, a yurt can be set up by one person. Now for the long answer;

My yurt is 15' in diameter, and ~10' high. I designed it so that one person could set it up, and I have done so. However, I made a tool to help with this that is not really documented anywhere. My roof ring is 36" in diameter, and I built a round table the same size. Through the table top, and into the tops of the four legs, I drilled holes big enough to fit expanding aluminum tent poles. You know, the kind with a pole within a pole and a little metal bowsie to hold it by friction, and the inner pole is pointed at the top (most day shades have these, but they can be purchased by themselves most places that sell tents). They're about 1.25" in diameter. Inside the roof ring I installed four angle irons with holes in the horizontal parts to fit onto the points of these poles. This contraption provides a base onto which the roof ring can be placed and then raised by one person to the requisite height. This is done after the door frame and khana walls are assembled and the whole evened out with the girdle cord that helps make it round. The table is placed in the center of the circle made by your walls, the ring raised, and then you can start placing the poles. I recommend you place them in quarter or third sections around the ring rather than one after another in a row. This also helps even the walls out as you go. Once all the poles are in place, you can lower the tent poles, which will slide out of the holes in the angle irons. They can then be removed from the table and stored until it's time to take the yurt down. Then you put up the canvas walls, followed by the roof, and, lastly, the belly band. Now you can start filling your living space with furniture, etc. It's taken me about two hours from car top to livable by myself. It's not an easy job, but it can be done. . My yurt goes up in half an hour with two or three other people helping. > >2. Stand khana up in a rough circle -- a couple minutes with 3-4 people, >but the fine-tuning comes later.

>4. Apply tension bands and try to make the whole thing circular. We always seem to spend a lot of time at this -- making sure the walls are of uniform height, making sure that various diagonals are all approximately the same (pacing, not measuring), etc. I also walk around the outside, checking the height of the walls (against my chin, I just happen to be a convenient height :) ) This gives us a good indicator if the walls are spread out to approximately the same dimension. > >5. Have someone hold up the roof ring and install the first 4-6 rafters, adjusting walls again as necessary. This round of fussing seems to take us a while.

You might try, next time you get the yurt set up, taking a long piece of rope and running it loosely around the bottom of your khana. Tie a knot to represent the circumference, so you've now got a loop the same dimension as your khana should be next time you set it up. Now, stick a stake in the center of the yurt, with a piece of twine or cord as long as from the center to the walls tied to it. Next time you set up the yurt, stick the stake where you want the center of the yurt to be. lay the loop of rope out in a circle around it, using the rope as a guide to make it a good round circle. Voila! Now just pull your khana out to how long it needs to be (you can cut a cord to measure this too, to keep from doing the "is it long enough, no that's too long" thing. Set the khana up along the cord on the ground, and... you should cut a lot of the adjustment time off of your walls. Plus, you won't have to do the adjustment while one person is holding up the roof ring!

We are lucky, in that my Lord is 6'7" tall. He has been named the designated "Atlas" and holds up the roof ring while I scamper around putting the first three poles in... We chose good heavy rafters, and put them in about 120 degrees away from each other. These first three will hold the weight of our ring, although it will look lopsided and wobbly until you get the other poles in. We then bisect the remaining spaces, putting a pole in the middle between the ones that are up until we've got half of them in, then just filling in the spaces. We use 48 poles, btw. 7 foot long pine, about 1 3/4 x 1, with the skinny part going across, when you've got them in, and the wider part being vertical? (Gods, I hate trying to describe something visual with text!) > >6. Install the rest of the rafters -- maybe 10 minutes. (We used 24this year.) I'd love to be able to get this up in half an hour; what am I doing wrong?

Can you transport your door all laced together, and just tighten the laces when you get on site? We had been taking ours apart for most of the time we'd used it, but found that when we didn't, it cut some good time off of our setup. Also, don't be shy about asking for help during the "putting the rafters in" stage, and assuring folks you don't need help for the "setting up the wall" stage. We found that our speed decreased in direct proportion to the number of extra folks we had helping in setting up the walls, and increased thusly with the number of folks to stick rafters in... :) Have you tried using a stake in the middle of the area, with a cord the length of the distance between the center and your khana walls? We use this technique, so there is very little fine tuning, and we can pretty much assure where the center of the yurt will be. The first few times we tried to set it up without this, and as we adjusted the circumference of the walls, we ended up moving the yurt right out of our camping space and into the next folks'! - 1. Assemble khana. Ours breaks into 3 pieces 2. ours is all in one piece. 16foot diameter yurt, wall is 5' high >> when stretched out - the "baby gate" compresses to a 86" long x 4' wide >>by 1.5" deep shape that is a pain to carry (it sags because of the >>flexibility), but lays flat. >Ours is all in once piece as well, about the same dimensions. We find that you can roll the khana into burrito shape (okay, a big mucking burrito!) by gently bringing one end in toward the center, then wrapping the other end We use the "burrito" to carry the khana about, but flat works best for us because of the trailer. The flat shape just nicely covers the floor of the trailer with no awkward curves to fit other flat objects against. We don't have a roof rack. One of our companions puts their yurt in their mini-van using the "burrito" fold. (I really like that analogy.)

--Just my $.02; If you were building your first yurt, or for some reason (severe burrito damage?) rebuilding your walls, I recommend making it in several smaller sections; After Corun's research on one at the Smithsonian (and his work on his own excellent ger) I became convinced. Our new ger is 16 feet diameter and uses 4 khana (wall sections). This makes for easier transport, and the sections simply overlap and are tied together during setup. It's just as strong as a single-section wall, and easier to manipulate during setup. It passed the "2 weeks at Pennsic" test with flying colors!

One advantage yurts have over standard tents .... large "smoke" openings in the roof and skirting on the sides that can be partially raised to provide adequate ventilation .... hot air rises through roof, creates low pressure that pulls steady supply of air through "vents" in sides ... sets up a convection flow that carries stale air (including carbon monoxide) out and pulls fresh air in.

As for safety ... the yurt is a "sacred" space - the hearth is at the center and as such all who enter are aware of it (all of us mongol types know basic yurt protocol). when one enters such "sacred space", one does not casually fling ones cloak around .... consider, it was death penalty for any one who stepped on the "threshold" of a yurt (the dividing line between the sacred inner circle and the external consensus reality world). if the person who suggested this design (and having experience in yurts and amerind tepees in winter, it is an excellent design) is sensible, he'll have an extinguisher out of sight and near to hand - as all SCAdian tent dwellers should.

>] I don't know what the size of the average European style pavilion or >] tent is, but I bring a yurt (which is the Russian word for it, the >] Mongolian being ger). My yurt is 15 feet in diameter, stands six feet >] at the wall and eight at the roof ring, and has no center support poles. > >My newly-completed gher (known to Europeans as a "yurt", which really >means "area of land where you live") is 16' in diameter, and stands >5' tall at the walls. The roof peaks at 10', and has a 3' diameter >smoke-hole with a flap to cover it, built around a Mongol-style >wheel like your. Currently it does have a center-pole attached to the >"wheel" by a spider of ropes and turnbuckles: I've first built an >"easy-up" frame for it, which uses (horrors) tether lines, and as >time goes by I'll also build a more authentic wooden framework for it. > >Corun, I have to advise you: I've never seen a real gher that had walls >more than 5' high. Most seem to be abuou 4'6" or so. The advantages >of a low wall are less fabric, less surface area exposed to the wind, >less volume to try to heat in the winter, and your enemies have to >duck coming in the door, making them easy to kill :-). But if you >happen to have a taller gher than I've seen : I'm sure the height >of gher walls varied some in the time of the Empire :-).

Thank you for the advice. My yurt is based on an actual one I was allowed to climb around in that was brought to the Smithsonian by the Russians several years ago for the exhibit Nomads of the Eurasian Steppe. The only difference is that the roof poles on this one were bent at one end so as to come down vertically to the khana (which was around six feet already), adding another 18 inches or so to the height of the wall. The roof ring was 57 inches inside diameter and rose to about 12 feet or so. The whole yurt was still only 15 feet in diameter, and the top and bottom pieces of the door frame were 7 inches wide, allowing for the same need to stoop to get in the door (very effective form of defense). Yes, there are subtle differences between the various tribes that inhabit the steppe. I met some Tuvans recently, and showed them a Mongol hat. They pointed out a difference in theirs to the Mongol one that was very subtle to me, but glaring to them. The four flaps that go around the hat on the Mongol one are of the same size, but on the Tuavns hat, the front and back ones are smaller than the side ones.

>The 5' walls on our gher work well, since the outer areas of the >floor of the gher are usually taken up by sitting things (storage >boxes, coolers, et cetera) disguised by throws, aproximately >according to traditional Mongol interior design, except the king-size >air matress. There's plenty of standing room.

On the yurt I researched, a pole was place horizontally across the khana, acting as a closet pole for hanging things from. This is what I do in my yurt.

>] Of course, not everyone wants to live as a Mongol. ;-) > >They just don't know any better. :-) We can fix that. ;-)

I have read with enthusiasm of the growing interest in Mongolian Gers. I offer the following information on the topic of Gers from the perspective of someone who has built two 18' Gers, and who is a paid member of the Mongol-American Cultural Association, Inc., and a member of the Great Dark Horde established in 1972 by Svea Wartooth (m.k.a. John Bailey), his fencing student Yang the Nauseating (m.k.a. Robert Asprin, author of the MYTH series and Phule's series, editor of The Thieves' World Books with Lynn Abbey), Mr. Bailey's first wife Barbara (deceased), and Aleeia of the Two Swords (m.k.a. Jacquline Sapulski) another fencing student of Svea's.

Included herein will be the most complete and current contact information for a variety of sources of information on Mongolian Gers, culture, traditions and arts past and present available to me. I offer this information to promote greater understanding based on independantly verifiable facts. I strongly encourage interested parties to contact any of these sources to get the truth for yourself. Remeber that ignorance is the only real enemy of mankind. Also feel free to email me directly with questions and comments.

"Due to special efforts of MACA board of directors member, Caghanbaatar, an internet news forum "Soc.culture.mongolian" has come into existence" quoted from Issue 3, August 1994 of the MONGOL TOLBO, national newsletter of MACA, Inc. General Mongolian discussion group.

First a point of clarification. According to Sanj Altan, current President of MACA, Inc., 50 Louis St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901, and a Mongolian native who emegrated to the US at the age of 5 during the Second World War when Mongolia was invaded and subjugated by the then Communist USSR, "yurt" is the Russian word for the Mongolia nomads home called Ger by the Mongol natives.

Mr. Altan has further explained to me that native Mongolians, and the Mongolian-American emegrees, find the word "yurt" to be offensive to them as it reminds them of the decades of oppression under the Communist invaders. As a courtesy to the real Mongolian peoples, I will refer to their wonderful portable architechture by their term "Ger" throughout this posting. I would further like to encourage the use of the name "Ger" to be used by everyone following this discussion as a token of courtesy and respect for these fine people.

Furthermore, I am happy to report that Sanj has remarked to me on more than one occasion his delight to learn that there is a growing interest among Americans in the history, culture, traditions and arts of his beloved native lands. He welcomes anyone interested in Mongolian culture past and present to become paid members of MACA, Inc.

Regular membership in MACA is $50 annually which includes a subscription to the national "Mongol Tolbo" newsletter. The annual subscription rate for the "Mongol Tolbo" newsletter is also available seperately for $20 annually. Full time students and retirees are elegable for a membership for $20 annually.

For a membership application or subscription order form please contact MACA, Inc. at the address listed previously. If you like you may even mention my name in your letter of inquiry if you address your letter to Mr. Altan directly, indicating me as the source of this information.

On the subject of Ger information:

For Ger enthusiats everywhere I am pleased to announce the "Mongol Renaissance" exhibition which will be touring the US for 12 months, opening in July 1995 at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, and continuing for display at the Denver Art Museum and the National Georgraphic's Explorer's Hall in Washington, DC. Current plans call for a multimedia installation to be part of the exhibition along with a ger being built for the show by the Ministry of Culture in Ulan Bator. A CD ROM of the multimedia piece may also be produced for sale with the exhibition catalog. Design and production for this work is currently being donated by Dynamic Diagrams, for the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the organizers of the show.

Mr. Paul Kahn, author of the excellent book "The Secret History of the Mongols", an adaptation based on Francis Cleaves' translation, is the project developer for the "Multimedia Ger Project" being featured in the above mentioned "Mongol Renaissance" exhibition. Mr. Kahn's project consists of four parts:

Part One: History Part Two: Felt Part Three: Making a Ger Part Four: Living in a Ger

Mr. Kahn may be reached for further information as follows:

Paul Kahn Dynamic Diagrams 12 Bassett St. Providence RI 02903 Ph: 401.331.2014 Email: Paul_Kahn@brown.edu

For whatever use it is, the following: I recommend the "drill & rip the 2X4s" method. The original s). For specification of lath moulding was for the prototype (what did I know then?). An excellent example of an aluminum yurt showed up last year, who knows what's next? Pultruded fibreglass? Spun carbon-fibre? There are several approaches to constructing the roof-ring, but the traditional method depends on which tribe's tradition you want to follow, and how much you are forced to accomodate modern materials and tools. I really think that steam-bending provides the strongest ring, but lamination or fabrication from sections works okay if you plan from the start to make it stronger than you think it needs to be. It is true that to really know yurts, you must build one and spend some time living in it. They are dynamic, like the rest of the universe. If requested, I will post the name & # of a friend who will custom build you a yurt suitable for permanent or temporary habitation

My first interest in Gers came from living in the first Ger built by Eadred Aelthylstan of the Great Dark Horde, at Pennsic in 1990. In turn Eadred and I wish to give full credit to Todric Koenig, originally of the Great Dark Horde and one of the founders of the Moritu (along with Rowan Starbear, Bjorn and Cip/Baron Thomas Damien Blackmoor, established in September, 1985, at the special khuralitai held at the University of Wisconsin, in Madison, WI) for being responsible for inspiring Eadred to build a ger of his own.

Eadred caught "ger fever" after Todric was gracious enough to invite Eadred to be a guest in Todric's ger in Moritu camp at Pennsic. During that first and many subsequent visits by Eadred to Todric's ger at the war, he discussed the various technical challenges and options available to a new ger builder. Todric's encouragement of Eadred's first effort and his boundless enthusiasm for the elegant architechture of gers in general were invaulable. While elegant in their simplicity, building a ger is a little tricky, especially at first. Tonos or roof rings are an art all by themselves, as you may well discover when you build your first ger.

In traditional Mongolian ger design there are several historically documentable conventions that have progressed unchaged to this very day. Palgi and Toch Toch Gyamcho (PH: 908-297-1140, leave a message) brought their hand-crafted geniune Mongolian ger with them from Mongolia. The brothers Gyamcho erect their ger, complete with all hand-crafted Mongolian furnishings of traditional design, in traditional color combinations, arranged in the traditional order of alignment, each year at the annual Chinggis Qan(their spelling) Ceremony, hosted each fall by MACA, Inc.

All aspects of the choices of and use of color, both inside and out, are very important to the Mongols. Both the brothers Gyamcho and Sanj have told me that the only "proper" color for a ger covering is white. Designs painted on the white outer covering of a ger are also significant to them. Oiyn or roof poles, the tono, and if used, the tono supports are traditionally painted a bright scarlet red accented with black, silver, gold and blue or green. To native Mongols their ger is more than merely their home. It is their place of worship and therefore, to them, these color conventions have 

YURTS/GERS--MATERIALS/CONSTRUCTION --
 

One thing I found when we built ours last year was that, at least here in Pittsburgh, wood prices are weird. The yurt requires something like 70 8' lathes -- boards an inch and a half (inch and a quarter?) wide and a quarter inch thick. These cost a fortune. It was actually cheaper to buy 2x4 and a table saw, cut the 2x4s lengthwise (each one yielded 8-10 lathes depending on how careful we were being), and then throw the table saw away. (We didn't actually do this; we used a friend's radial arm saw. But it would have been cheaper to buy the tool for a single use than to buy the lathes.) Sure, it took extra time to do this, but we're talking a price difference of a few hundred dollars. And besides, drilling the lathes was easier; we just drilled the 2x4s before cutting them down, guaranteeing that the holes mostly lined up in the right places. (We used a drill press to make sure the drill was vertical at all times.)

We cut the slats from oak. 5/8"x7/8". *snip* Ahh! We cut ours of pine, actually cutting them with a saw out of 2x4s. I don't know if perhaps the oak isn't flexible enough to make the burrito thing above, but it's worth a try.

walls and door frame] >1) is the use of 1X2 boards authentic or should I use round poles?

I believe truly authentic yurts use saplings. SCA yurts tend to use lath board -- boards .25 inches thick and 1.5 inches wide (and 8 feet long). You drill holes every foot (offset by 3", so at one end the first hole is 3" down and at the other the first hole is 9" down), lay the boards out in the overlapping pattern (make sure they don't interlace), and bolt it together at each hole. Do not make the nuts so tight that the joint won't move; you need to be able to fold and unfold the wall. Helpful hint: lath board costs on the order of 40-60 cents a linear foot. You're going to need 70 8' boards. For much less money you can buy 9 or 10 2x4s *and* the table saw to cut them down, and then throw the table saw away (but of course you wouldn't actually do that last). Further, if you have a long enough drill bit, you can drill the holes in the 2x4 *before* cutting it down, greatly increasing the chance that your boards will line up properly.

--For the average SCA camper, I'd recommend the simpler construction of straight roof poles. Most of the yurts in our camp use 1x2s, but I use 7' by 1 1/2" closet poles. Having 32 of them, I break them into three bundles that are more easily carried by me, and stow more easily. My roof ring is 36" in diameter, and very sturdy. It's made of individual blocks, one for each roof pole, but one day I'd like to experiment with bending wood, as this is more traditional. The yurt I researched had a 56" diameter ring made of three pieces of tree trunk about 3" around, lap jointed and banded with metal straps at the joins. All of the poles used for the khana and the roof were 1" diameter arctic willow saplings. Those used in the khana were not longer than 8' and those for the roof were about 10' or so. The roof poles were also planed square on the end that entered the roof ring, and square holes were cut in the ring. This prevented twisting of the poles. My poles are round and tapered on the end that enters the roof ring, and I have put a dowel into the pole about 3" from the end to stop it from sliding through the roof ring. With the entire structure up, I can do chinups from the roof ring, and I weigh in at about 85 kilos.

> >We keep breaking laths. Is there a modern material (I know, I know) of which khana could be made

> This may be the benefit of the oak we used... or just may be that we've only put it up a couple of times this year (usually try-outs at the farm, once for Pennsic.) Each slat did get the "twist test." One guy on each end, twisting in opposite directions until it wouldn't twist anymore. If it cracked or broke, it failed. About 1 in 30 or 40 failed, but we got the oak cheap because it had sat around a farmers field for a year so. I was seriously impressed to see them twisting the slats almost 90 degrees without breaking.

We've been very lucky, and have not broken a single lathe or rafter although the steel pegs have came out of several, and had to be reglued back in) in the 3 years that we've used the yurt. Again, could this be something in the nature of the pine vs. oak? I don't know, maybe a more wood-oriented person could say...

I decided two years ago that I wanted a yurt. The resulting yurt had some problems when it made its debut at last Pennsic; we fixed most of those and gave it another try at a camping event this past weekend. I think our third outing will finally be successful. (I didn't know much of anything about carpentry or engineering when embarking on this project.) >3) how do I attach the two wings to each other?

Bolts. You break the wall into 2 sections for ease of transport; use bolts and wing nuts to join them. (I break mine into 3 sections because I don't think I'm quite strong enough to lift half my khana onto the roof rack.)

>4) how do I attach the door?

My door frame is made of 2x4 and I tie the khana to it tightly. Some people bolt it in.

>5) was there always a door or did some only have a frame (I seem to remember the ones on video as simply using the tent flap)?

I would expect cloth doors to be most correct. If you mean "was there a wooden, hinged door", very unlikely. (Though I've seen one SCA yurt built this way.) >in the book, the fella made the structure stand and be circular by attaching a length of "airplane cable" to the top and tying the ends together. this is obviously not period (as he says that a rope is not usable for this)

You need something to cinch in the walls or they won't be able to hold up the rafters. I use nylon straps. (Go to an army-navy store and ask for "towing straps".) I use 2, one at the top and one at the middle.

>8) how do I connect the roof to the wall? (the guy in the book used that same cable)

You notch the rafters and insert them on the "points" at the top of the khana. (You then run a rope through a hole in each rafter; some people lash in the rafters, but others say this isn't necessary. The rope you run is what you hang your walls from.)

>9) I haven't the foggiest on - how do I attach the fabric to the structure?

For the roof there are a few options. The easiest thing to make is a square roof; make it bigger than the yurt is by a few feet, pull it over (this will take 2-3 people), and stake down the four corners. You can make a round/conical roof that's just big enough to hang down by a few inches all around and then run a cloth band around the outside to hold it in place. I'm sure there are other ways.

For the walls, grommets and S-hooks.

>10) what weight of canvas have folks found optimal for Pennsic climate?

10oz or 12oz canvas, mostly.

>11) will I look really stupid if I go into a fabric store and ask for felt? I have no idea how to procure felt in the proper quantities. Note that felt will require treatment if you want it to resist water, mildew, fire, etc. Canvas can be bought with this stuff already done.

>14) do I attach the structure to the ground? You don't need to; it's heavy enough and distributes its weight well enough that it's not going to go anywhere in a storm.

>16) is there anything I've missed? The roof ring is hard to get right. Trust me.

>wilelm the smith who last pennsic spent the time during major storms >in a 8'x12' raised floor, post&beam, mortoise&tennon framed tent, >lounging on the built in double bed and wondering what all the fuss >was about----Better Living Through Decadence!

In service, Corun (who was wondering the same thing while lounging on the futon in his yurt)

I decided two years ago that I wanted a yurt. I bought a set of plans from Sir Ogami (who's on the net somewhere). The resulting yurt had some problems when it made its debut at last Pennsic; we fixed most of those and gave it another try at a camping event this past weekend. I think our third outing will finally be successful. (I didn't know much of anything about carpentry or engineering when embarking on this project.)

[walls and door frame] >1) is the use of 1X2 boards authentic or should I use round poles?

I believe truly authentic yurts use saplings. SCA yurts tend to use lath board -- boards .25 inches thick and 1.5 inches wide (and 8 feet long). You drill holes every foot (offset by 3", so at one end the first hole is 3" down and at the other the first hole is 9" down), lay the boards out in the overlapping pattern (make sure they don't interlace), and bolt it together at each hole. Do not make the nuts so tight that the joint won't move; you need to be able to fold and unfold the wall.

Helpful hint: lath board costs on the order of 40-60 cents a linear foot. You're going to need 70 8' boards. For much less money you can buy 9 or 10 2x4s *and* the table saw to cut them down, and then throw the table saw away (but of course you wouldn't actually do that last). Further, if you have a long enough drill bit, you can drill the holes in the 2x4 *before* cutting it down, greatly increasing the chance that your boards will line up properly.

>3) how do I attach the two wings to each other?

Bolts. You break the wall into 2 sections for ease of transport; use bolts and wing nuts to join them. (I break mine into 3 sections because I don't think I'm quite strong enought o lift half my khana onto the roof rack.)

>4) how do I attach the door?

My door frame is made of 2x4 and I tie the knana to it tightly. Some people bolt it in.

>5) was there always a door or did some only have a frame (I seem to remember > the ones on video as simply using the tent flap)?

I would expect cloth doors to be most correct. If you mean "was there a wooden, hinged door", very unlikely. (Though I've seen one SCA yurt built this way.)

>in the book, the fella made the structure stand and be circular by attaching >a length of "airplane cable" to the top and tying the ends together. >this is obviously not period (as he says that a rope is not usable for this)

You need something to cinch in the walls or they won't be able to hold up the rafters. I use nylon straps. (Go to an army-navy store and ask for "towing straps".) I use 2, one at the top and one at the middle.

>8) how do I connect the roof to the wall? (the guy in the book used that same > cable)

You notch the rafters and insert them on the "points" at the top of the khana. (You then run a rope through a hole in each rafter; some people lash in the rafters, but others say this isn't necessary. The rope you run is what you hang your walls from.)

>9) I haven't the foggiest on - how do I attach the fabric to the structure?

For the roof there are a few options. The easiest thing to make is a square roof; make it bigger than the yurt is by a few feet, pull it over (this will take 2-3 people), and stake down the four corners. You can make a round/conical roof that's just big enough to hang down by a few inches all around and then run a cloth band around the outside to hold it in place. I'm sure there are other ways.

For the walls, grommets and S-hooks.

>10) what weight of canvas have folks found optimal for Pensic climate?

10oz or 12oz canvas, mostly.

>11) will I look really stupid if I go into a fabric store and ask for felt? I have no idea how to procure felt in the proper quantities. Note that felt will require treatment if you want it to resist water, mildew, fire, etc. Canvas can be bought with this stuff already done.

>14) do I attach the structure to the ground?

You don't need to; it's heavy enough and distributes its weight well enough that it's not going to go anywhere in a storm.

>16) is there anything I've missed?

The roof ring is hard to get right. Trust me.

In article <3ojs5v$cb4@newsbf02.news.aol.com>, LDulin <ldulin@aol.com> wrote: >Ok, we've heard about Mongolian gers, but what about the ones the Turks >used? How are they different? Has anyone researched them? >Thanks >Lijsbeth

Yurts (or gers, depending on the language), were of a fairly similar design throughout most of the nomadic peoples. Variations that occured were in the density of the khana wall, ie. the number of slats or poles used to make up the khana, and in the number and shape of the roof poles. The two most commone forms were straight poles and poles that were bent at the end that attached to the khana. In the latter, the poles were of necessity, much longer. The pole was planed flat at that end for about 24" or so, and then bent, so that the flat end was then lashed to the khana where two pole came together to form a "v". This added about 18" or so to the overall height at the khana, so that a tall person could stand easily at the wall. This also gave the roof a dome shape, and the felt used to cover the roof was made like a large cap, sometime with "belt loops" attached to allow a wide strap of woven yarn to be pulled through in order to hold it down better. Of course, other straps were thrown over the structure as well so that one didn't rely on only one strap to hold things together.

This sort of yurt is very tall inside, nearly 15' high at the roof ring. The ring itself was also very wide, nearly 56" in diameter. Needless to say, this type of yurt would require more than one person to erect.

For the average SCA camper, I'd recommend the simpler construction of straight roof poles. Most of the yurts in our camp use 1x2s, but I use 7' by 1 1/2" closet poles. Having 32 of them, I break them into three bundles that are more easily carried by me, and stow more easily. My roof ring is 36" in diameter, and very sturdy. It's made of individual blocks, one for each roof pole, but one day I'd like to experiment with bending wood, as this is more traditional. The yurt I researched had a 56" diameter ring made of three pieces of tree trunk about 3" around, lap jointed and banded with metal straps at the joins. All of the poles used for the khana and the roof were 1" diameter arctic willow saplings. Those used in the khana were not longer than 8' and those for the roof were about 10' or so. The roof poles were also planed square on the end that entered the roof ring, and square holes were cut in the ring. This prevented twisting of the poles. My poles are round and tapered on the end that enters the roof ring, and I have put a dowel into the pole about 3" from the end to stop it from sliding through the roof ring. With the entire structure up, I can do chinups from the roof ring, and I weigh in at about 85 kilos.

In service, Corun My yurt is 16' in diameter, which gives you 201 square feet of floor space. It is 5'8" at the wall, and the center ring is 8' high with no support pole. It takes about 30 minutes to put up (with two people), and I have transported mine in a Renault Encore by putting a heavy-duty roof-rack on top. The rest of my gear, including armor, camping supplies, food, etc., went inside the car. The yurt breaks down into these sections: two wall sections (khana), 30"X 8' X ione inch one door frame, 5'8" X 30" 33 roof poles, 1" X 3" X 8' one center ring, 30" X 4" top canvas, 21' X 21' side canvas, 6' X 50' smoke hole cover, 36" X 36" door curtain, 6' X 4 ' floor tarp As time passes, you add stuff and modify stuff until it's less like camping, and more like moving to a really cool apartment for a while. I sell yurt plans, if you like. They're five bucks. E-mail mayXXX my address if you'd like a set. (Much as I dis- like 'advertizing' on the net, the mortgage payment IS overdue!) Ogami "Si hoc legere scis nimium eruditionis habes." (If you can read this, you're overeducated.)

>So far as I know, Gar's were covered in felt, not canvas. The felt is >not what we would go to a store and buy, but untreated wool that was >made into felt. This felt had lots of oils still left in it and was >not only warm but waterproof as well.

If you are talking about period gers, you are correct, the Mongols did not have canvas. Felt was the primary covering for gers, and the oil was lanolin. This felt was also close to an inch thick.But we were talking about a modern ger shipped from Mongolia that only had the canvas outer covering that is used today.

>I have not heared of Ger's being made with canvas except the ones we >have made here in the U.S.A. This is not to say that canvas is not >now used somewhat by the mongols now days, just that it does not apear >to have been the way it was done.

The commercially made gers I have seen all have a thin canvas outer shell that goes over the felt.

>In addtion, it seems that the inside walls were also covered with >felt, as to the roof also having a second layer I have not seen it >done, but it could have been done.

I haven't seen inside walls covered with felt, but can't say this wasn't done, only that I think it unlikely. I have seen cloth wall coverings, but these were on modern gers, again the commercially made ones. The coverings are quite attractive.Often the felt walls of the gers had four (or so) inch wide bands of woven yarn stitched to the top corners. These were very long and were thrown over the roof to be tied to the khana opposite where the felt wall was hanging These multicoloured bands would crisscross over the roof poles and under the felt roof making a pleasing looking pattern against the white felt. I believe this is the more period practice but have no documentation to support it.In service, CORUN

Does anyone know anything about the process of making felt large enough for >a tent? How about felt rugs? How did they sew pieces together, and what >waterproofed the seams? About how much wool would it take for a small >tent? I have several bags of wool that need to be used... >Melandra of the Woods

It just so happens I recently taught a class on felt making and how it's used in two rug making techniques at the recent University here in Atlantia.The technique is always the same, only the tools and amount of wool changes. For a 15' diameter yurt, which is the average size family dwelling in Mongolia, you will need the wool of approximately 90 sheep. The finished felt will be upwards of between a half inch and an inch thick. For a smaller tent you could use less wool and make it thinner.

In Mongolia the process runs like this; an already finished piece of felt is laid out on a larger piece of canvas. This is called the Mother Felt. The new wool is then separated (usually by being beaten with sticks) and laid out on top of the Mother Felt. This is called the Daughter Felt. This is then wetted down. Here we add soap or vinegar to the water to change the PH factor, causing the hairs of the wool to open up so that the hook-like ridges on each hair catch those on other hairs, which makes the whole solid. Anyway, in the steppe urine would probably be used to change the PH. I've used a combination of dish sopa and vinegar and this works quite well.

Once the Daughter is sopping wet, a wagon axle is laid along one edge of the canvas. As it's rolled forward the wool, felt and canvas are rolled up around it. This is then tied tight and ropes are attached to the ends of the axle and either to one camel or two horses. The axle is then pulled by the animal(s) for several kilometers beating the felt and making it solid.

When done, the axle is unrolled and the Daughter separated from the Mother. The Daughter is then rolled separately to remove the rest of the water. The finished felt is then used as is or cut into pieces depending on what part of the yurt is going to be covered by this piece. Horse hair is braided and sewn along the edges of the felt. For some reason, while everyone is involved in the making of the felt, only the women sew. I think this is something to do with religious ritual. There is a lot of that in the things the Mongols do, being a shamanistic people originally.

As I said, rug making is similar in technique. There are two types of styles for making rugs, ala-kiiz and shirdak. The latter is a word that simply means felt rug. The wool is dyed and pieces of felt are made of similar sizes. A commone pattern is cut out of each piece and counterchanged into pieces of different colours. These are then sewn together with heavy coloured wool thread. I can not recall the name for the type of stitch that is used, but it uses a hook similar to a rug hook and very much like a tiny harpoon. My references are at home right now so I can't look this word up for you. Sorry.

The other style, all-kiiz, is a bit more fun. You take a large mat of woven reed or thin bamboo and lay it down. You then take your coloured wool and lay it out in a pattern. Once the patter is laid, you then lay a large quantity of neutral coloured wool on top and wet the whole thing as descirbed above. You then roll the mat up and beat until felt has been achieved. When you unroll it your pattern shows nicely against the neutral background and you have a nice, thick rug.

As for waterproofing, use unprocessed wool that has all the lanolin still in it and you'll never need waterproofing. For the thick ten felt this is especially important.Hope this helps. If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask.In service, Corun

>My guess would be that Mongolian sheep would not produce heavy fleeces, >based on my assumption (which could be wrong) that the grazing would not >be abundant. Wool is the among the lowest priorities for a sheep's body, >so it suffers if nutrition is borderline.

Actually the grazing on the steppe is quite abundant for all the animals the steppe nomads herd. They will often have herds of sheep, goats, yaks and horses (the small steppe pony).

>So, maybe five pounds of fleece per sheep? Making a total of 450 pounds >of fleece--that cover is one *heavy* cover! And very insulative. Plus >the naturally hygroscopic tendency of wool might have helped control >dampness inside the gher in cold weather (damp being a major problem in >subfreezing camping, even in desert areas--humans give off a lot of >water vapour!). Subtract out some of that weight in lanolin removed as >part of the felt process--maybe 10%? So the cover would eventually >weigh, dry, 400 pounds or so. Seems heavy but could be moved by one >horse via travois or wagon.

That weight actually sounds accurate given the density of the yurt felts I've seen. They've been upwards of an inch thick. But they're made in sections, so you wouldn't be dealing with one huge piece. Even the roof felt can be in two pieces. Figure for a 15'diameter yurt four to five pieces making up the walls and roof, with an additional piece about four by six to cover the door. So, multiple pieces would be lighter and easier to move and carry. If the family has a horse herd then this is distributed across several animals. Yaks and camels (Bactrian, not Dromedary) can pack more.

>I also wonder if they perhaps threw in some goat hair (mohair) or >perhaps horsehair--longer, tougher fibres that would help the felt hold >together.

Any goat or sheep wool would likely be used, but I don't know about the horsehair. They do use the main and tail hair for braiding ropes, but that's a different fiber from that which is on the hide. I'm not sure that horse hair has the same scale that wool does. But I don't really know for sure. Interesting thought though. I've know people to spin the fur from their cats and dogs, even though I've heard it's harder to do than with wool.

>I wonder how tightly felted the wool is. In a piece that large and that >thick, I'd imagine that there would be some variation--do they go over >the piece when it's unwrapped and do some work by hand to tighten up the >softer bits?

The examples I've seen have been very tightly felted, and I haven't noticed any indications of additional hand work being done to fill in any gaps. Of course the nomads have been doing this for thousands of years and I suspect they have the technique down to a fine art by now. <g> Still, I've seen yurt felt being made and they use what could best be described as bales of wool for a given piece, so any variation in thickness would be negligible.

I offer this tradition as an example. The last piece of the yurt felt to be made is the triangular piece which covers the roof ring. After it's felted the women sew horse hair braids along the edges while the shaman sprinkles three drops of mare's milk at each of the three corners. Once this is done the elder male of the family is then set in the middle of the piece and tossed in the air three times by the rest of the family members. I guess the contention is that the felt is strong enough, and therefore the family and tribe is too, or you need a new elder. ;-)In service, Corun


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Number 6:

Pavilions: History and Construction by Baroness Barbary Elspeth Ham and Countess Susannah Grif

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