Yurt Resources

Starred books are available through our online Bookstore.


*YURTS: Living in the Round by becky kemery, Gibbs Smith, Publisher, 2006.

A comprehensive volume on modern yurts that documents the movement of yurts from ancient East to modern West, explores contemporary design variations, and answers questions on fabric yurts (from building codes to climate issues and composting toilets). All four types of yurts are covered, with an extended ‘how-to’ section on the modern fabric yurt. Includes lots of photographs and stories and a substantial resources section. (If you like this website, you’ll love the book!)

*A Handmade Life by Bill Coperthwaite, Chelsea Green, 2002.

Now in paperback, this award winning volume includes stories of Bill Coperthwaite’s experiences with ethnic crafts around the world and highlights his ideas on education, social design and (of course) yurts. A finely crafted book with beautiful photographs and much food for thought.

*Mongolian Cloud Houses: How to Make a Yurt and Live Comfortably by Dan Kuehn, Shelter Publications, 2006.

A re-issue and update of Dan Kuehn’s 1980 plans for making a 13-foot diameter Mongolian yurt from bamboo or willow with a canvas cover.

*The Complete Yurt Handbook by Paul King, Ecologic Books, 2001.

In Part One, UK yurt builder Paul King covers the history of the yurt, construction principles and “the etiquette of ger living”. Part Two gives instructions on how to make both Mongolian and Turkic yurts.

The Real Mongol Ger Book by Froit

Construction details for an authentic Mongolian ger. Beautiful handmade book includes samples of wood, felt and canvas.

*Circle Houses: Yurts, Tipis and Benders by David Pearson, Chelsea Green, 2001 (UK title: Yurts, Tipis and Benders, Gaia Press).

Lots of yurt stories and photos, mainly from the UK, with instructions for building a Mongolian-style ger. The focus is on traditional yurts with limited information on the North American versions.

Tipis and Yurts: Authentic Designs for Circular Structures by Blue Evening Star, Lark Books, 1995.

Through her book and early yurt-building workshops, Blue Evening Star helped spread the word about yurts. Contains a nice introduction to the Mongolian ger, beautiful shots of her yurt against the red rocks of Sedona and detailed descriptions of her unique tipi-based design (best suited for desert climates).

Tents: Architecture of the Nomads by Torvald Faegre, Anchor Books, 1979, currently out of print.

Well researched and beautifully written, often profound, with nice illustrations by Faegre throughout.

Build a Yurt
by Len Charney, Sterling Publishing, 1974, .

Len Charney explains how he built an early version of Bill Coperthwaite’s tapered wall design.

Nomad Tent Types of the Middle East: Part 1, Framed Tents (3 vols.) by Peter Alford Andrews, Wiesbaden, Germany: L. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, 1997.

British scholar Peter Alford Andrews is the world’s leading authority on the various types of “trellis walled tents” (his term for traditional yurts). This exhaustive 3 volume survey covers the Turkic versions. Vol. 1 contains written material, Vol. 2, accompanying photographs and diagrams and Vol. 3 consists of maps. .

Felt Tents and Pavillions: The Nomadic Tradition and its Interaction with Princely Tentage (2 vols, 1472 pages total) by Peter Alford Andrews, London: Melisende, 1999.

Vol. I covers the nomadic Mongolian tradition and Vol. II, “princely tentage” on the Indian subcontinent in the Medieval period (a great resource for SCA enthusiasts!). Included are over 275 photos, illustrations and color plates of paintings.

The Changing World of Mongolia’s Nomads by Melvyn Goldstein and Cynthia Beall. University of California Press, Berkeley, 1994.

Anthropologists document a herding cooperative in its transition after the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990’s. A fascinating study with beautiful photographs of daily life in yurts.

Shelter I & Shelter II, ed. by Lloyd Kahn, Shelter Publications, 1973 & ’78.

Two classic works on shelter worldwide. Sections on yurts in each.

*Home Work: Handbuilt Shelter by Lloyd Kahn, Shelter Publications, 2006.

An inspirational “dream book” on homemade shelters, replete with photographs. Contains a nice section on Bill Coperthwaite’s tapered wall yurts and information on the Mongolian ger.

*Wonderful Houses Around the World by Yoshio Komatsu, Shelter Publications, 2004.

A children’s book containing photographs of homes around the world, accompanied by pen and watercolor drawings and written descriptions of everyday life in these homes. Magical!

Retreats: Handmade Hideaways to Refresh the Spirit by G. Lawson Drinkard III, 1997.

Lovely and inspiring book with some nice bits on yurts.


Cave of the Yellow Dog. Byambasuren Dava, Director, 2006.

Follow-up to Dava’s award-winning “Weeping Camel” film, this docudrama about a girl and her dog tells the story of a Mongolian herding family. Lots of ger footage, including taking it down.

*Mujaan (The Craftsman). Produced and directed by Chris McKee, Ragcha Media, 2004.

This beautifully crafted documentary shows a Mongolian family building a ger, from trees and sheep to finished product

The Silk Road film series (6 vols). Produced by NHK Enterprises.

Contains segments on the Central Asian nomads with some scenes of yurts. See especially ‘Where Horses Fly Like the Wind’ in the first series.

The Story of the Weeping Camel. Byambasuren Dava and Luigi Falorni, Directors. National Geographic World Films, 2005.

The moving tale of a Mongolian family and their struggle with a mother camel. The story unfolds in and around their ger.

Wild Horses of Mongolia. PBS Nature, 2003.

Julia Roberts travels to Mongolia to ride the wild horses, and spends several weeks living with a nomadic Mongolian family.

Education and Research

The Yurt: Education Pack

Activities and discussion topics for 5-13 year olds, with a full set of teacher’s notes. Order from: FCFCG/ The GreenHouse / Hereford Street/ Bedminster UK BS3 4NA (Tel: 0117 923 1800, Email: [email protected]).

Mongolia Book List

Annotated list maintained by the University of Akron

Lost Country : Mongolia Revealed by Jasper Becker. Sceptre, 1993.

A British journalist travels Mongolia and surrounding areas and tells the often tragic tales of people recovering their culture after decades of Soviet domination. Well written, poignant and informative.

Felt : New Directions for an Ancient Craft by Gunilla Paetan Sjoberg, trans. Patricia Spark, 1996.

A great introduction to felt with background and historical information, craft ideas, and clear how-to instructions. A world-wide perspective.

The Art of the Feltmaker by M.E. Burkett, 1979, out of print.

A classic work. Photographs of feltmaking in the Middle East.


The Freedom of a Yurt

This beautifully written, well researched article by Claire Wolfe covers the basic considerations of purchasing and setting up a modern canvas yurt home; includes information on companies and comparative pricing.

Living in the Round

An emphasis on the idea of living in the round and the advantages of yurts, including for the chemically sensitive. Some interesting suggestions.

Yurts: Round and Unbounded

Article by becky kemery traces the story of the modern yurt and addresses issues of modern nomadism.

National Geographic

  • Edward Murray. With the Nomads of Central Asia. Jan. 1936, Vol. 69, No. 1, pp.1-57.
  • William O. Douglas. Journey to Outer Mongolia. March 1962, Vol 121, No. 3, pp. 289-345.
  • Cynthia Beall and Melvyn Goldstein. Mongolian Nomads. May 1993, Vol. 183, No. 5, pp. 127-136.

The Plowboy Interview: Bill Coperthwaite Mother Earth News #19, January 1973, p.6.

Nature’s Education Fabric Architecture. May-June 2000, p. 56.

An unusual fabric yurt design from Japan.

Sustainable Living Books

See Yurt Links page for sustainable living journals and online resources.

The Good Life by Helen and Scott Nearing, 1989.

Classic work on homesteading by the pioneers of the back-to-the-land movement.

The Composting Toilet System Book by David Del Porto and Carol Steinfeld (2000).

A practical guide to choosing, planning and maintaining composting toilet systems.

The Humanure Handbook by Joe Jenkins.

Practical solutions to waste management–low cost, easy-to-build, low-impact options.