After my epiphany on that jet-lagged night, it was time to pick my first yurt. To my big surprise it was incredibly hard to find a traditional manufacturer of Kazakh yurts in Almaty. Chinese manufacturers offer aluminum and canvas yurts, and all of the locals use Chinese yurts these days, for convenience’s sake. But I didn’t consider them at all.
I wanted my home to be built by masters of the craft, in accordance with all the traditions.
After reading a lot of articles, I decided to go ahead with the purchase of Turkic or Kazakh yurt, rather than the Mongolian ones you may have seen in the movies. First of all, it’s taller. It doesn’t need Central pillars for the shanyrak (circular opening at the top), and the roof angle is just right to handle heavy snow in case I decide to live in it during the winter.
A traditional yurt is made of blue willow (talnik) that grows along the river only in Kazakhstan and Kyrgizstan. I wanted it to have handmade felt that is breathable and made from sheep from my homeland. Most important, I wanted authentic handmade shanyrak that represents the universe to be from my homeland. Another important part is the shii. It’s a handmade straw mat that reminds me of a Japanese tatami. The shii keeps the yurt cool during summer.
I was quite surprised by the price tag: yurts are expensive. I wanted a medium sized yurt. If you choose one with white felt and the all bells and whistles, it will come up to around $20,000 USD. In my case, I chose grey felt and minimal interior decoration and paid $5,500 USD.
After my grandmother passed away, that was the exact amount that she left to me. I considered that as a good omen and paid for the Yurt.
So, fast forward two months. Today I finally got pictures of my newly-built yurt that’s ready to be loaded and shipped to Canada!
1. The kerege (walls), uyks (roof poles), and shanyrak (roof opening) are painted in the traditional red color. They are made of flexible but strong blue willow.
2. The shii is a handmade straw mat made of tall grass called shi. It is not just a decorative touch but an important part of the yurt. It keeps insects and sand out while allowing air to circulate inside the yurt when you lift the lower part of the felt. It’s like a window screen.
3. When it’s too hot, you can leave just the shii and remove the felt walls entirely. So it’s perfect for summer.
5. Close the door flap.
6. Let’s look inside. See how tall it is?
P.S. Meanwhile I just paid for a Chinese made 3.5 meter Yurt that will serve as a storage/utility place. I will write more about it if anyone is interested.
Stay tuned for more info.