Like every other nomadic culture, Mongolian culture is well-known for its hospitality. Upon guests’ arrival, traditional offerings and treats are served - dairy products in the summer time, and meat in the winter. Traditionally a Mongolian, even during his absence, will leave his ger unlocked, in order to allow any passer-by to rest and enjoy the treats which are left on the table for visitors.
Mongolians traditionally lead a pastoral, nomadic lifestyle. Because of the climate and short growing season, animal husbandry defines the nomadic lifestyle, with agriculture playing a secondary role. Nomads raise five types of animals - goats, sheep, cattle (including yaks), camels and horses - that provide meat, dairy products, transportation, and wool. Of these animals, the horse holds the highest position in Mongolian tales and legends.
As one of the only remaining horse-based cultures left in the world, Mongolians greatly cherish their horses. Outside the capital, the horse is still the main mode of transportation.
Children begin riding as soon as they can sit up. Nomads are extremely proud of their riding skills and horse racing is a favorite pastime. Believing the race to be a test of the animal's and not the rider's ability, young children are often the jockeys. The most prestigious tests of these superb animals are the horse races at the Naadam Festival, Mongolia’s national games, which takes place each July. Fa milies will travel for days to be able to participate or just attend this grand event.
Nomadic families follow a seasonal routine, moving the herds to new grazing land based on the time of year, rather than one of aimless wandering. Historically, each clan had various chosen grazing grounds that were used exclusively by the same clan year after year. This tradition carries on today and families return to the same locations at the same time each year, for example, traveling at the end of each winter from a specific sheltered valley to a particular grazing area on the steppes.
Daily responsibilities are divided evenly among family members and no one person's work is considered more important than another's. Traditionally, men take care of the horses arid, the herds and make saddles, harnesses, and weapons. In addition, they hunt to supplement the traditional diet of dairy products. Women also milk cows, goats and mares (the national drink is airag - fermented mare's milk). Despite their enterprise, however, Mongolians are not self-sufficient. Since ancient times, they have traded with surrounding civilizations far grain, rice, tea, silk, cotton and etc. Women's responsibilities include cooking, taking care of the children and making clothing (the traditional Mongolian costume is the ankle-length silk Del).
With a history of over a thousand years, this portable dwelling made of wood lashed together with leather thongs and covered with felt is the home of the Mongolian nomads.
A Ger ha s many un ique features that make it ideally suited to serve as a dwelling for nomads in Central Asia, who must move regularly and face severe climatic conditions for much of the year.
Portable: A Yurt is easy to assemble, dismantle and carry. Depending on the size, a yurt can be assembled or dismantled in anywhere from thirty minutes to three hours. After dismantling, the various parts of the yurt are loaded onto camels, horses and ox carts for transport.
As nomadic herders move at least three or four times a year in the search for good grazing lands, this feature is of essential importance. During times of war, ancient nomadic warriors were constantly on the move and the portability of yurts provided them with an opportunity to carry their homes with them wherever they went.
Air circulation: A Ger has an opening in the center of the roof, which is called the crown or toono. Because the crown is located at the top, fresh air regularly circulates through the yurt as cold air flows down and hot air flows upward.
Because the crown is located in the middle of the roof, the air coming through it reaches every part of the interior, providing fresh air for every one regardless of where they are in the yurt.
Easy to heat and cool: The temperature in Mongolia ranges from -31 to + 104 degrees Fahrenheit (-35 to +40 degrees Celsius) depending on the season.
The yurt is designed to be adapted to provide comfort to its inhabitants in both cold and warm conditions. The central wood-burning stove provides heat evenly throughout the yurt when required, with extra layers of felt added wrapped round the structure in the coldest months to provide insulation.