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Yurt at the Festivities and Celebrations


Although yurts are commonly seen in the rural districts of Kyrgyzstan, as homes for the shepherds in the high mountain pastures, (or “jailoo”), or used as “roadside cafés”, they are encountered less in urban areas. In the modern world, in villages, towns and cities, yurts have given way to houses and apartment blocks. They are still, however, an important feature of any gathering of celebration, and it is not unusual to see them erected, for example, in the courtyard of a block of flats.

The simplicity of design and structure offers flexibility. They can be used to provide useful additional accommodation, a temporary kitchen or dining room for a festival, demonstration or celebration such as a wedding or “toi”, (family gathering). The Kyrgyz embassy in the United States even suggested the use of yurts as “appropriate” and ecologically friendly, temporary accommodation for emergencies and natural disasters such as in the aftermath of the Katrina hurricane.

Many of the local festivals held around the country during the summer and autumn would be incomplete without a “yurt village” being assembled to provide facilities for the participants to enjoy. During the Manas 1000 celebrations in Talas in 1995, a special, three-tiered yurt was erected to accommodate some of the official functions.

Often, a yurt erected in an urban courtyard is a sign of recent death. The body of the deceased lies in the yurt before being conveyed to the cemetery for internment.

The architecture of the yurt, the circular form and arching auks surmounted by a tyunduk, often form a feature of monuments, (such as the monument in Victory Square in Bishkek), or more permanent buildings, (such as the Municipal Sauna in Bishkek and the  Agroprom building, housing the Ministry of Agriculture, in the main Ala Too square in Bishkek).