Shirdeg (felt rug)

Country: Mongolia

Mongolian’s civilisation is nomadic, therefore people profit from farm and cattle animals like camel, horse, cow, yak, sheep and goat. Statistic showed Mongolia has fifty six million cattle in 2017. Especially, people use sheep wool in their everyday lives because there are many sheep and goat. The roof and sheathing of the  yurt’s ger is made out of sheep wool in traditional process.

The felt rug has been used by Mongolians from early centuries and has passed down by generations. Every member of the family has their own felt rug and they cannot share their rug with each other or with guests, because it was made specially for each of them. A long ago when infant is born, they have to be carried to the felt rug right after getting out of the mother’s womb. Felt rug is also called felt shirdeg in Mongolian.

The felt rug provides warmth, sound absorption, fire insulation and is environmentally friendly.  Felt rug can be made in both at home and in factories. First, the wool has to be cleaned and then the felt made. Then, the felt rug is sewed directly into the felt that is made for the rug. The yarn is made out of camel wool which is spun by hand. The style of the felt rug and the patterns depends on what it is used for including sky, mountain, water and animal shapes.  

Felt rug can be used in many different ways for everyday life. For example, it can be used outdoor as a blanket to carry and indoor as a blanket, rug, or seat and sofa cover. It can also be used as decoration on the wall when it is made lighter in weight. Usually it is made for everyday household purposes so it is easy to clean, and it can be cleaned at the dry cleaner.

Younger people these days do not use felt rug as much as the older generation so it is disappearing slowly. In order to keep the tradition and save the felt rug, Mongolians registered felt rug in UNESCO in 2012. However, felt rug can be found everywhere in Mongolia, including the countryside. In the capital city Ulaanbaatar, there are hand-craft stores where felt rugs can be found as well.


  1. I would very much like to know more about “The roof and sheathing… is made out of sheep wool”.