11 February 2014

Mongolia's Ger - Tuesday's Snapshot


Tuesday's Snapshots - highlighting images from the EL team and our guests based on a Mongolia theme. This week...introducing the ger - very much a part of the Mongolian landscape. 


In Mongolian the terminology is ger which means home. Another term used is 'yurt' which originates from old Turkish, meaning ‘dwelling place’. 
In a ger the stove / fire is the central feature. The stove used to be mounted on three stones which represented the host, the hostess and the daughter-in law who was to bear the family heir. The stones also represented the past, present and future.

The ger has had a role in shaping the Mongolian character and family life. The small confines prevent privacy but compel families to interact and to share everything. Life in a ger tightens the relationship between relatives – making families stronger. 

Guests usually move in a clockwise direction when entering a ger – following the direction of the sun from sunrise to sunset. The west (left) is usually where saddles, bridles and other items associated with men’s work are situated (the west side is believed to be protected by heaven). The east (right) is usually where food and cooking implements are situated – the women’s side of the ger (the east side is believed to be protected by the sun). Sitting on beds is not considered rude; these double as seats even if someone is sleeping in one. The north end of the ger is considered the ‘place of honour’, the khoimor, and this is where you will usually find the family altar.

The structure of the ger  includes the roof wheel or crown (tono) which allows air to circulate and the chimney to pass through. The roof ribs are called uni. The lattice wall sections (khana) of gers are made from a light pliable wood such as birch, poplar or willow and tied together with strips of  hide or leather.  The wooden components of the ger are  traditionally painted orange and richly decorated with symbolic patterns.