The Kyrgyz people have been a nomadic group since the 13 century. During my trip to Kyrgyzstan I got to spend 3 days in a small village and 1 day in a yurt learning about this traditional lifestyle.
The nomads are sheep herders and excellent horsemen. The traditional lodging is a yurt, which is a circular tent made of wool tarps stretched over a wood frame and tied down. The key piece of the yurt is the top most point, which is a ring that all the poles attach to and is called a tunduk. The key to this peice of equipment is thetwo sets of three bars arching across the ring. This part is so important that it is often passed down through the generations and is a prominent feature on the national flag
Being that the tents are round they survive very well in high winds since there is no edge for the winds to catch. In fact when I was up in the high country it was just over freezing and the wind was blowing around 20 knots, but inside the yurt the wind was completely blocked. With the addition of a small stove, that burns dung since there is a scarcity of trees, these yurts can be quite warm and comfortable.
When I was in the village I stayed in a back room that had very low table in the middle of it and piles of blankets stacked along the wall and several rugs on the floor. Turns out when it is time for bed the table is taken away and the beds are made. This is done by placing several pads down and then adding sheets and blankets. By the time this was done I was as comfortable as if I was on a mattress and more than warm enough and was quite literally “snug as a bug in a rug”. In the morning everything was put away and the table was brought back in.
Each type of blanket in the stacks had a purpose (pad for bed, blanket for over you, runners to sit on, ect) and were not intermixed. They are kept on top of chest, that can be antique heirlooms, in order to keep bugs and mice away from them. Now this was in a house, but it would have been the exact in a yurt. In fact the tradition of the rugs on the ground being several thick and interlaced is because the yurts have dirt floors.
I had a wonderful time learning about the nomadic lifestyle and living in a yurt, which is where I found myself playing cards one night…in the middle of Asia….in the mountains at 10,000 feet….a hundred miles from a big city….in the freezing wind….with half the people not understanding each other. It was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life!!!!!!