To build an ourtz
The Reindeer Riders of north Mongolia do not only survive one of the coldest winters on earth, but they do so in a teepee. How do you build one? Watch and learn.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: their belongings.
During the nine days Oltsan and Zaya herded their reindeers in the north. All their belongings were kept under one or two covers in the autumn camp.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: squaring the poles before chopping down.
The neighbour Shagaa is squaring a lark with an ax, before he cuts it down. Normally there are enough old poles lying about, but the autumn camp has never been this big.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: tying the first three poles together.
The first three poles are hoisted up into the air and made to length by chopping off the bottom of the pole. The back pole is the longest so the stove is near the entrance. Four or five neighbours are helping out.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: adding poles.
The new poles are stuck in between and jammed into the ground. Everything is done on sight, so some ourtzes are bigger than others, or rounder or steeper.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: the frame is done.
Their ourtz has fifteen poles. It is only 4,5 meters across and their smallest so far. The summer ourtzes are much bigger and even have a divide in front of the kitchen.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: the top.
The poles are stuck in between each other in a seemingly random way. What are the rules? I do not know.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: cutting down the tree in front of the door.
The tall tree in front of the ourtz is cut down with a chainsaw. Later it will be used to make flooring or cupboards.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: cladding the ourtz.
This size ourtz is made with five pieces of canvas, starting from the entrance. While the men are building, the woman are carrying logs to place the belongings on.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: pulling up the highest canvas.
The ourtz is almost done, and Saintsetseg is inspecting the work. It took about half an hour from selecting the spot to finishing the ourtz.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: hoisting up the door flap.
Lastly a piece of canvas with a horizontal branche will be attached to make a door. Then the ourtz will be finished.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: making reindeer milk tea.
The home is finished when the fire is going and Zaya makes milk tea for visitors.
leveling the ground to make the floor.
A few days later Oltsan cut planks from a living tree to make a floor. Here he's cutting and pasting the forest floor.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: the new floor
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: guest bed
In another hour Oltsan made a bed from freshly cut logs, canvas and a blanket.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: Zaya's making buuz.
Traditional Mongolian food: steamed dumplings with meat, onion and garlic.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: puppy on watch
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: visitor.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: drying the wolf skin.
The wolf that tripped and dropped dead is drying in front of the entrance.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz and outside space.
Zaya and Oltsan's Ourtz: storage just beyond the dogs reach.
Zaya and Oltsan with their reindeer.
Move: The Reindeer Riders or Tsaatan or Dukha call their home an Ourtz. It is made of larks poles, canvas and rope. During the year they take their ourtz from camp to camp, moving north in the spring and back south in the winter. A camp can consist of one family or as many as fifteen. Whenever a family moves they pack their belongings on reindeers, mount their animals and ride to the new location. Usually they have to come back once or twice to move all their belongings, but they build up the new ourtz on the same day.
Lark tree poles are left behind. Since the wood is so durable you can find poles anywhere in the taiga. Most of the time a family can just pick up the poles that are there and start building their ourtz.
Oltsan and Zaya had just come back from herding the reindeers for nine days in the wilderness. Here is how they built their ourtz.