Kyrgyz culture has been greatly influenced by their nomadic heritage. It is reflected in the way a household was run, in customs and rites. People decorated their homes with items that were both beautiful and practical. The masterpiece of folk creation is the Kyrgyz yurta (yourt, yurt, tent), which was easy to assemble and transport from place to place.
The Yurta is a small dwelling, decorated with hand-made felt carpets and strips. Having its roots in ancient Turkic tribes, the yurta took all the best from many centuries' experience of nomadic people. Kyrgyz tribes, occupied with nomadic cattle-breeding in the mountains, worked out the best type of transportable dwelling that is easily dismantled, moved on pack animals and again set up.
The Yurta consists of wooden pieces and a felt cover.
Latticed folding walls (kerege) consist of separate links. They define the size of the yurta. From the outside, the kerege are covered with mats made of cheegrass stalk. It lets air into the dwelling and at the same time protects it from wind and dust.
The spherical roof of the yurta is made of sharply bent poles - uuk. At one end, where they are bent, they are fixed to the upper part of the wall base, at the other end they are set into the holes in the tunduk - a wooden circle at the top of the yurta.
The Yurta is made of willow; for the tunduk, which constitutes the hole for smoke to leave the yurta, they use more solid kinds of wood (birch, juniper).
The Yurta is covered by felts of different types. These include tunduk jabuu, tuunduk, and uzuktor. The felt cover is connected to its frame by narrow woven and leather strips. The cover of the tunduk is moveable and the hole for smoke is easily opened in the morning and closed at night with help of long cords. The doorway is covered with felt or woven ornamented curtains.
Yurta can be set up in about 1 hour.
The internal and external sides of the yurta are richly decorated with different ornamented items made of felt, application, braided patterned fringe, multicolored tassels (chachyk) and patterned braid (terenchek boo).
Over the years, not only the yurta as a whole, but its interior has changed. The right side of the yurta was considered the women's part (epchi jak). Here, colored bags with felt application, clothing, headdresses, jewelry, needle work of mistresses and pottery were kept. Food storage was separated with a screen from the ornamented mat (chygdak).
The left side was for men (er jak), where the best clothing and headdresses of the men were hung, and closer to the entrance hung a harness.
The place opposite of entrance was considered an honorary position (tor). On this part of the wall was a row of trunks where rarely used patterned carpets were laid. The more carpets - the richer the people living in the yurta. On the floor of the yurta only the best carpets, ala-kiyiz, were laid, and on them - narrow quilts (toshok) or fur rugs - koldolosh. The "Tor" was the center of the yurta. It was the place for the most honored guests. "When you are the guest, don't sit in the tor". If a person more honorary than you shows up, the master will tell you "Give your place to him!". And you will have to give up that spot before all the guests. So when you are guest, take a less honorary place. And the master of the house will come and say: "Respected friend, please, go to tor", then your authority will increase). Before sitting guests was laid a kind of table-cloth - a "dostarkhan". In the middle of the yurta they made the fire and cooked the meals. This spot is called "kolomto". Rich people cooked their dishes in special yurtas - "oshkanas". Poor people lived in small, smoky yurtas (boz ui, kara ui), where they kept not only their utilities (bed, pottery), but during the coldest time of the year - newborn calves and lambs.
In the yurta, people are always surrounded by comfortable carpets, woven and embroidered covers, blankets and pillows and other items often made by the mistress herself. Materials that she uses include felt, fleecy cloth, furs, textiles, and cheegrass; the main decorations are bright colors and ornamentation.