Yurt, the felt house of Central Asia

Yurt, tent from the Turkish speaking nomads
Yurt felt house from the Turkish speaking nomads from Central asia

Every year I go to the djailoo,the Kyrgyz alps, to stay in a yurt for a couple of days. Yurts are the felted houses of the Turkish speaking tribes from Central Asia.

My yurt is always at the same family in Kyrgyzstan. Once I slept in a yurt in Uzbekistan, in the middle of no where. The trip was organized by a travel agency. The yurt was beautiful clean and everything, but it didn’t belong to a family. A couple of man working for the agency lived in these yurts.  After sunset they had great fun with each other and their vodka drinks. That’s ok when you are traveling in a group, but I was alone and the door of my yurt, as all yurt doors couldn’t be closed. I didn’t sleep well that night.

The shape of a yurt is like the view on the world of the animistic believing tribes. The dome shaped sky en the round flat world.

The round fence has been made of bent twigs. The sticks are tied together with leather, no iron is used in the yurt.

The top of the round dome is open to release the smoke from the fireplace.  It is called Tündük. Around the fence the Chii is stretched , it is a mat made of reeds. Sometimes beautiful patterns of wool are woven into the reeds. The threshold is closed by a thick felt door. The outer side of the tent is covered with thick felt, a good protection against the rain and wind.

Inside the women section is at the right, with the kitchen. On the left side we see the garment for cattle breeding and hunting, the section of the man. Opposite the entrance  all kind of textiles like carpets, felt rugs, quilts are piled on trunks. The place in front of the trunks is also the place of honor , the place for guests to be seated.

Several felt rugs are put on the floor in the yurt. And of course we have to take our shoes of..

More info on Shirdak, can be read in my blogs about shyrdak felt rugs

Staying in a yurt is very nice experience, the sound in a yurt is because of the textiles soft and the atmosphere is cozy.

The yurt from Central Asia
The yurt from the Turkish speaking nomads from Central asia



Hungary and the link with Central Asia


hungarian crafts with Central asian design
Felt art from the hungarian hat millener Zsofia Marx

Once I traveled in Hungary, on a local market I was impressed by the crafts such as the leather, linen, ceramic and felt products. In the contemporary leather and felt arts the connection with Central Asia is often visible in the patterns that are used.

Read more Hungary and the link with Central Asia

The Last Piece of the Puzzle

Kashgar City
The fascinating city of Kashgar, China

Entering the border of China I felt relieved.  I was going to meet the last group of Central Asian people – the Uyghur, a Turkic ethnic group living mainly in the Xinjiang region of China, whom I have not met before.

For the first 100 km after crossing the border from Kyrgyzstan, we were not allowed to leave the bus.  What I saw was very similar to the tribal areas east of Peshawar in Pakistan, but as our Uyghur guide told me, unlike other countries, you can see our women on the street.

And yes, we saw the women, beautifully dressed in bright ikat clothes and embroidered hats.  The smell of charcoal and kebabs reminded me of the good days in Peshawar before 2001.  In those days, we could walk around in the city at our leisure, selecting carpets and textiles. Why are these specific cultures disappearing?

Entering Kashgar, the shock was to be expected. Staying in the beautiful former Russian consulate, we could pretend we were living in the old days in Uyghur land.  But as soon as we ventured out by taxi, we found a different world.

Kashgar Medicine
Kashgar Medicine!