The truth about Authentic Mongolian yurts ?
|An authentic Mongolian yurt -
crown wheel falling to pieces
due to bad quality materials
Ulaantaij - Bringing Mongolia to the World
Mongolia does not mass produce good quality yurts, nor is it able to. It does however produce a
high volume of yurts each year for the poorest of the poor. As that is nowadays the only social
class that still lives in a yurt. The only way to keep prices low for these people is to make yurts
using unskilled workers and shoddy or illegal materials. Middlemen and importers who have no
choice but to buy and bring these yurts to the West, try to pass them off as the best quality yurts
in Mongolia. They are not. You are paying a high price for a shoddy product.
The wooden components on a Mongolia yurt are made to be strong, not waterproof, it
does not need to be, Mongolia is a very dry climate. Bring a normal Mongolian yurt to Europe
and it’s straight through, poor quality, unpainted, untreated joinery (see picture top right) will act
as a sponge, soaking up water, expanding and contracting until it slowly pushes itself apart.
This will take 1 -2 years to happen. BUT IT WILL HAPPEN!
Look up to your crown wheel and it will send further shivers down your spine. A combination of
using unseasoned (and I guarantee illegal) wood and poor quality, non-waterproof glue means
that your crown wheel will not be as pretty a sight as your door. It will warp, twist and crack once
exposed to the great British outdoors. However you can experience that Authentic Mongolian yurt
Traditionally all ropes on Authentic Mongolian yurts are made of horsehair. These wear relatively
well in the UK and you can expect them to last a couple of years. You can tell a horsehair rope
as it is relatively hard and rough to the touch. However, nowadays, 99% of ropes that
accompany your Authentic Mongolian yurt are made from wool and yak hair, they are cheaper to
make, and do not wear anywhere near as well. Often they can snap before one year is up. Yak
and wool ropes are soft to the touch.
The main issue is where the wood came from. Illegal or legal? Illegal timber is free, you simply
find a nice forest and start chopping it down, hence it's popularity. However the government has
now woken up to the environmental damage this is causing and in an effort to stop it, is heavily
regulating the transport of wood. Especially into the capital. In order to avoid these restrictions
many companies are now setting up production, timber stores close to the site of illegal logging.
How can you tell legal from illegal wood? Only companies that have been approved and have
been issued with certification are able to buy wood from government approved auctions/ sales/
agents. If a company does not have or cannot show you this certificate then they are using
Same situation as the paint I'm afraid. The cheapest quality glue money can buy. It is not
waterproof, or even that strong. But it will hold two pieces of wood together ... for a while at least.
There is no word in Mongolia for wood filler. The word used means "to cover" Which is exactly
what is done. Common wall plaster is used to cover the cracks, splits and rough uneven
surfaces of your Authentic Mongolian yurt. So that when your poor quality Chinese paint is
added, it as least looks presentable. However, as with everything else on the yurt, this is
misleading, as when placed in a wet, damp environment such as that found in Europe, the wall
plaster will soak up water, swell and fall out of the cracks it was supposed to hide, along with
the paint covering it.
There are four layers of material covers that cover a Mongolian yurt
Covers the roof only. Made from thin cotton. Cotton will go mouldy in months in wet Europe
In Mongolia a thick natural felt is used. Brown/ grey in colour it is very thick (30 - 40mm) and very
warm. It is useless in the West as it still contains lanolin making it smell when damp, plus it
also attracts mice and moths. Some companies will try to convince you that Mongolians use a
100% pure processed wool felt. They don't, it's too expensive, they use it for making carpets and
tourist souvenirs. It is never used on yurts in Mongolia.
Mongolians only put canvas on the roof sections of their yurts, which is fine as it is such a dry
climate. Yurts exported to the West sometimes have canvas added to cover the walls, but rarely
to ground level. Moreover, the canvas is cut in such a way as to make it waterproof for the limited
amount of rain that falls in Mongolia, but totally unsuitable for a wet Western environment.
This is the outermost cover on a Mongolian yurt and the one that holds the traditional Mongolian
designs. It is made of cotton. Which again will go mouldy in a matter of months in a wet
Packing yurts for their long journey to the West
No such thing in Mongolia I'm afraid. The various material covers, wool, cotton and canvas will
be laid unpacked on the container floor and/or wrapped around the various wooden
components of your yurt in order to try and protect then on their long voyage.
|Buy a yurt from any other
maker in Mongolia and this will
be the result after 1-2 years
As above: If you really want to
waste wood, then buy an
"Authentic" Mongolian yurt.
Are all Mongolian yurts the same?
It's a sad fact that the economic
situation here in Mongolia means
that it is virtually impossible to
purchase yurts that would be
acceptable in the West in terms of
quality of materials used,
construction methods, design,
This is why we established our own
workshop in Mongolia, and why we
import the majority of essential
materials used in their construction.
We felt this was the only way to
ensure we offer the best quality yurts
Mongolia has to offer, alongside
operating in a sound and ethical way.
Below we have outlined why we
think Authentic Mongolian yurts are
unsuitable for anywhere outside of
Mongolia. For a full run down on how
our yurts are made click HERE
Authentic Mongolian Yurt in Europe: Yurt door falling
to pieces due to poor quality joinery. This door was
made with it's mortice and tenon joint exposed.
Small pieces of wood had been rammed into the
joint to make it "fit" Took one year for it to fall apart.
|Shut that door! Well you can't
because it's swollen due to all
the water leaking into it.
A Common email
I bought an Authentic Mongolian
yurt from an importer in the UK
a while ago. However the crown
wheel has warped due to the
wet weather. Could you please
forward me a price for a
replacement and whether you
have any in stock in the UK.
There's no rush I shall be taking
it down for the winter as I tend to
use it for summer festivals
across the UK.
You will see the same design 18 ltr.
can of paint throughout
Ulaanbaatar. The colour of the paint
inside may vary, but the design on
the can is unmistakable. It is
Chinese, and is the cheapest
quality paint they export. I have
never seen a yurt in Mongolia
painted with anything else, it is easy
to check, as the shade of each
colour is quite unique. It's fumes
are extremely toxic, and this is part
of the reason that yurts made in
Mongolia are painted outside, come
rain or shine, or more likely in
Mongolia ... dust. I suspect it's
made with nothing you'd like to read
about never mind come in contact
with. The fact that it is so cheap
makes it popular in Mongolia, as
cost in a third world country is more
often than not the main concern.
However do you really want your yurt
painted with this stuff, I think not. .
The Gaurdian newspaper recently
ran a story on unsafe Chinese
goods, including paint. Click the link
to read more.
A picture from the website of UK company in Wales
that imports cheap yurts from Mongolia, and sells
them at a huge markup. You can see the 18 litre
cans of cheap Chinese paint top left. If you click the
picture to enlarge, you can see some very nice
cracks in the unpainted crown supports.
Pre-erection and testing
Some companies boast they thier yurts
are all erected prior to shipping. Why do
they erect them then I hear you ask? The
sad fact is that some components are
made in-house by unskilled carpenters,
some are outsourced to other
companies. What you end up with are yurt
components made in different places by
different people, and in order to make
sure they all fit together the yurt has to be
erected to check that everything fits.
Sometimes they do, mostly they don't.
See picture left. Ask yourself, why is this
person planning the end of a roof pole
that has already been painted, reducing it
back to bare wood? Easy, it doesn't fit into
the hole in the crown wheel it was
supposed to, hence "reshaping"it was
supposed to, hence "reshaping"
This picture was taken from the website of a
UK company who imports yurts from Mongolia.