Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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7 / Domestic Life

Kirghiz Yurt
Kirghiz Yurt
Artist / Origin Kirghiz maker(s)
Date 20th century
Material Felted-wool with appliqué, animal hair, wooden reed supports
Location The Pamirs, Sinkiang Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region), Northwest China
Credit © Galen Rowell/CORBIS.

expert perspective

Jeff SpurrIslamic and Middle East Specialist, Harvard University Fine Arts Library

Kirghiz Yurt

» Kirghiz maker(s)

expert perspective

Jeff Spurr Jeff Spurr Islamic and Middle East Specialist, Harvard University Fine Arts Library

Nomadic peoples have to be able to carry the complete cultural repertoire with them. So everything that they use has to be able to be put largely on camel back, if not horseback, and therefore there are limits to the kinds of objects that they will be interested in owning. And the heaviest things they are libel to take with them are the felt covers for the yurts, and the poles that hold the whole structure up, and this elaborate lattice screen that typically goes around the interior of the yurt, decorated or not.

The portable house—the yurt—would, for any given tribal group, have a form characteristic of it and distinct from other groups and, much like everything else in the culture, would therefore be a point of recognition for other people who might encounter this group. And so it would be one of the repertoire of signs of the identity of a particular people.” 

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