The history of the yurt


Sleeping under the stars is one of summer’s great pleasures, and so for our Summer Collection this year, we decided to create a home from home inside a traditional yurt. We were fascinated by the possibility that the empty space inside could become whatever room you wanted or needed it to be – even a whole house. But this got us thinking, where did the yurt come from?

According to historical documents and archaeological evidence, yurts have existed for approximately three thousand years. They were the homes adopted by horse-riding nomads in Central Asia around 600BC and also the warrior clan known as the Huns in the 4th century AD. However, when visiting Mongolia in the 14th century, it was explorer Marco Polo who noted that the local people resided in circular houses covered with felt (made from wool from their flock of sheep), which they either transported on wheeled wagons (more often than not reserved for people in high-ranking positions within the clan) or packed up and unpacked whenever they moved onto the next settlement. The latticed wooden frames meant these structures were light enough for yaks or camels to carry, and easy to construct again in just a few hours.

Yurts are always built with the door facing south. The reasons for this are both geographical and cultural; firstly, to avoid the cold north-easterly winds blowing in from Siberia and receive the warmth of the sun all day long; secondly, herders use the crown of the yurt as a sundial to tell the time, and lastly, the spiritual significance many associate with certain compass directions.

And where does the unusual name originate from? There are many suggestions; in the Turkic language (spoken across parts of Asia, north-western China and northern Europe), the word refers to an impression left in the ground after a tent has been moved, in Russian, a tent is called a ‘yurta’, and in Mongolian, a yurt is known as a ger, which simply means ‘home’.