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Badma Amulakova, Inside a Felt Yurt



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Terbish, Baasanjav 
Churyumova, Elvira 


Badma talks about the interior of the Kalmyk yurt. She says that during the times of Chingis Khan the ancestors of the Kalmyks lived in yurts erected on a platform with wheels that was pulled by a couple of oxen. The yurt is easy to assemble and disassemble. Traditionally, its door has to face south. In the past, the wealthy had several yurts, including one used as a kitchen, one to keep clothes, and one to keep young animals. The centre of the yurt has a tripod for fire. When a yurt is disassembled and erected in another place, the first thing that is put inside it is the tripod. The yurt that Badma shows in this video is not Kalmyk but of Mongol type. In comparison with the Mongol one, the Kalmyk yurt has a smaller roof ring (kharach), approximately a metre in diameter. The roof ring has holes for roof poles (unin) not on its sides but underneath. Hence the Kalmyk yurt has a higher roof. Badma shows an old chest to keep clothes that the Kalmyks used to produce in the 1920s. She also says that the furniture inside the yurt was always practical – the Kalmyks never kept things that were difficult or inconvenient to transport. All items inside the yurt had their exact place. The most venerated area in the yurt is at the back where women and children were not allowed to go. Only elders or guests could be seated there. The right-hand side of the yurt is considered a ‘women’s area’, and the left-hand side that of men. ‘Men’s implements’ including a saddle, a lasso, ropes and weapons are kept on the men’s side. The bed where the father of the family sleeps, however, is on the right-hand side (i.e. ‘women’s area’). His bed is closed with curtains. His wife sleeps on the floor in front of his bed. Closer to the door, on the wall hangs a shelf for cutlery, pots, and cups. The left-hand side of the yurt (i.e. ‘men’s area’) is where the paternal grandfather sleeps with his wife. Like on the opposite side, the grandfather has his own bed while the grandmother sleeps on the floor.



Yurt, architecture, utensils, furniture

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.