The Mongolian ger was used even before the time of Hunnu Empire and its features have been evolving and changing constantly to find its current shape.
Ger is the most suitable dwelling for extreme weather changes and nomadic way of life. It is easy to collapse or build and light enough to move from place to place by ox and camel carts. The ger’s cover and mats are made by felt, which is good for human health. Mongolians are called the Felt nation. The traveler Maiskii who travelled around Mongolia for a year in 1919, mentioned his encounter of seeing nomads heating up their gers with iron stove. The look of the ger was changed greatly when iron stove and chimney was introduced in around 1919 and felt covering and glass window on the top (toono) were introduced in 1940s. Even now half of the total population in Mongolia live in a ger. Also most of the tourist accommodation in the countryside use gers.
How to build a Mongolian ger:
Step 1: Set a floor first, and then put large furniture onto the floor to keep it in place
Step 2: Circle the wooden walls (khana) from the right
Step 3: Raise up the roof (toono) by 2 people on each side
Step 4: Put up pillars to supporting to the roof (toono)
Step 5: Connect the roof and the walls by the rafters (uni)
Step 6: Put the felt cover (burees) on the outside of a ger
Step 7: Assemble the stove and chimney
Step 8: Place the furniture
The things you need to know before visiting Mongolian herders in a ger:
There are certain dos and don’ts when you visit nomadic family in a ger. Mongolians have been following these unwritten rules for centuries.
- Approach Mongolian ger from southwest if possible
- Open the door by left hand and take the first step by right leg over the doorstep (bosgo)
- It is bad Oman to step on the doorstep or hold from the wooden doorframe by your right hand
- To avoid hitting your head on the top of a doorframe (totgo), make sure to bend down a bit
- It is important to say hello to the people inside as soon as you enter a ger
- If the owner of the ger does not indicate where to sit, the man usually sit on the left side and the woman sit on the right side of a ger
- The oldest or leader of the group usually sit on the north side of a ger
- It is not polite to refuse if you have been offered tea or airag (traditional drink), therefore if you don't like what you have been given, take a small sip or bite and put it down on a table
- Do not put a cup of tea or airag on the floor
- If an older man may offer his snuff bottle hold it gently with both hands and take little sniff and give it back
Stay with nomads for real authentic experience and learn about their way of living on our nomad stay tours (https://mongoliansecrethistory.mn/ancient-city-camel-herder-homestay/)