Buriats - Settlements

By the seventeenth century the Buriats were engaged in nomadic animal husbandry. Corresponding to this type of livelihood, their nomadic camps were circular or stretched from east to west. The Buriats' yurts ( ger), like those of the Mongols, were made of a wooden frame and felt coverings, which were attached to the frame by rope made of braided horsehair. The wooden frame of each tent included five to eight folding, trellised walls ( hana ). The roof of the tent was in the shape of a truncated cone, consisting of long sticks ( uni ) reaching from the low end of the trellised wall to the rim of the smoke opening ( tono ) at the top of the tent. Pieces of felt of various shapes and sizes were spread over the wall and roof of the tent and covered the smoke opening. The entrance to the yurt always faced south.

Those Buriats who were hunters and lived in the taiga did not have yurts. Rather, they lived in conical huts ( chum ) made of hide. The Russian Cossacks who settled along the steppes beyond Lake Baikal exposed the Buriats to the Russian type of frame hut (Russian: izba). At first the Buriats began to build five-, six-, or eight-cornered wooden yurts alongside their felt yurts. Later they built huts of the Russian type. Toward the beginning of the twentieth century, the felt yurts were seldom used, but the wooden yurts can still be found in rare instances. The most common types of housing today are the apartment houses in the city and, in the countryside, the izba huts of the Russian type shared by one or two families.

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