About this collection

This video collection features interviews with architects, scholars and ordinary people who talk about the Kalmyk ger, temples and statues.

Nomadic lifestyle requires that dwellings and structures be mobile. The traditional dwelling, or yurt, of the Kalmyks is called ger, which is also widely used among various nomadic peoples in Central and Inner Asia. Easy to assemble and transport, durable as well as lightweight, the ger consists of four main parts, namely term (wall) uudn (door),unin (roof poles), and kharach (roof ring or crown), all of which are made of wood. The wall is an expandable latticework construction consisting of several sections arranged in a circular shape and tied together with a rope. The latticework is made of rods of equal length organised in a crisscross pattern. The size of the yurt depends on the length of the wall and the number of roof poles. By adding or reducing the wall sections and roof poles, one can change the size of the yurt. The roof ring of the Kalmyk yurt is supported by roof poles only, which contrasts with the Mongolian yurt that has additional columns to support the roof ring from the floor. Because of its structural peculiarity, the Kalmyk yurt has the roof of a conical shape rather than a rounded, convex one as in the case in the Mongolian yurt. The whole structure is covered with felt, which keeps the inside warm in winter and cool in summer.

Having been the main adobe for nomadic Kalmyks until the first half of the 20th century, today the yurt is no longer used as a dwelling but is relegated to museums and tourist camps. It was not only the yurt that suffered during the Soviet period. In the 1930s all Buddhist structures, including temples, monasteries, and stupas, were destroyed. The only building that survived the Great Purge is part of the Khosheutovskiy Temple situated in the village of Rechnoe in Astrakhan oblast. Since the 1990s, the Kalmyk government has actively supported the revival of Buddhism, and as a result today many settlements in Kalmykia have temples, prayer houses, and stupas. Designed by Soviet-educated Kalmyk architects, many modern temples and prayer houses are different from historical ones.

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