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Wells, kyarizas, sardobes in Turkmenistan.

Desert Tours in Turkmenistan.

 “He who does not bravely defend with the weapons of his pond, he will be destroyed”

Arabic proverb.

Drive from Ashgabat to Bukhara.

You can write an excitingly interesting story about wells and reservoirs in the desert. How much work, ingenuity, skill has been applied by the desert man for millennia to provide himself and his animals with water!
The wells here a
re different: shallow and very deep, they give salty, salty, or fresh water; their walls are fastened with stone, wicker, branches of plants or remain bare without fastening where hard, non-crumbling rocks allow this. Residents of the sand are well versed in the feeding of wells by groundwater.
In the language of the nomads Sa-Hara, for example, there are 20 words that they mean different types of wells. When traveling in the Turan plain, and later in the Gobi, in the Dzungar desert, I had to see many times wells, reservoirs, kyariz - water-collecting galleries.
Here are some observations.
Dirty, gray sand, almost all covered with sheep’s litter, bare sand, devoid of vegetation, are sure signs that the well is close. The trail disappears under the tracks of animals going to a watering place. Central Karakum.
Well Tezekaaan (new boiler). Around the skeletons of camels. Ten skeletons. Throwing their heads, bending their long necks, stretching their legs, these animals died of thirst during the hot Karakum days. Camels abandoned by the Basmachi during their escape wandered through the desert, approached the wells and waited for them to get drunk.
Slowly languishing days passed slowly one after another. The desert was silent. Silence was broken only by birds and flies, annoyingly buzzing at the eyes of animals. The forces were exhausted. The camels were already sitting with their legs pressed under the body, and with sad black watery eyes they looked into the darkness of a deep well.
Man walked, the water was somewhere below, its smell was felt, and, eagerly drawing in that smell, the animals were dying of thirst. Eagles and crows curled over the well of death, gathered wolves, foxes and picked up pieces gluttonous and cowardly jackals.
The skeletons of camels darkly gray on gray, dirty with well sand. When cleaning one shallow well, we pulled out a wolf, who, apparently seduced by an insignificant depth of the well, jumped there to get drunk, but could not get out and died.
Wells. The amazing skill of the builders of these wonderful desert structures with artisanal methods of work. The walls of almost all wells are usually fastened with stone, brick, wood, and they are built by special masters of well construction art.
In the South-East Karakum, in the foothills of Parapamiz, there are wells with a depth of more than 200 meters. It is difficult to imagine this depth. How long does it take to get one bucket of water from such a well, and how much does this bucket of water cost?
Fresh water in the desert that gold. There is water in the Karakum, but the groundwater here is almost always salty or brackish. True, there are areas where saline water is replaced by fresh water, for example, in the Amu Darya Karakum, in the lower reaches of the Tedzhen and Murghab, where river water, seeping into the loose soil of sandy deserts, form fresh underground water reserves, which gradually move away from the rivers are saline.
Nevertheless, in the Central Karakum there are fresh wells. Their Turkmens are called cheerlekuyu, that is, a water well. These wells are very special. Among the sands, in the lowest place, on large dense clay platforms - takyrs, Turkmens dig a well. At a depth of 10 - 20 meters, water appears, as always, salted.
But this does not bother the builders. On a clay platform - takyr they dig grooves - shallow so as not to dig the upper clay horizon. These grooves lead to the wells. During spring rains a lot of water accumulates on clay takir.
Clay does not allow water to penetrate to the depth, and through the grooves it rushes into the well, filling it. Fresh rainwater does not mix with the underlying salt for a long time due to the difference in their specific weights.
At the top, in permeable soils, there is a fresh water lens, at the bottom - a salty tablecloth. If you carefully, little by little use the well, then throughout the whole year you can have fresh water. Brackish water freezes more slowly than fresh.
The wells in the Karakum are relatively deep. Winter, although harsh, is short and is accompanied by thaws, which is why wells in Turkmenistan, as a rule, do not freeze. In Kazakhstan, winter is harsher. In Mongolia, the winter is severe, with frosts up to 40 - 50 degrees, without thaws and very long. In the Gobi desert I saw fresh shallow wells, a stone's throw from the water: one or two meters.
From such wells, the Mongols pulled water with leather buckets tied not to a rope, but to a stick. It is more comfortable. A leather bucket will scoop up water in a well with a very small layer of water, and besides, the capacity of such a leather bucket is two to three times greater than the iron one.
Turkmens, Karakalpaks, Kazakhs also prefer leather buckets - “kow”, or “howie”. Gobi shallow wells freeze to the bottom in winter. Often freezes and soil flow that feeds them. Then the Mongols break the ice and melt it in boilers, thus extracting water for personal needs.
Cattle, eating snow together with grass, are content with it. You can often see how the Mongols warm the wells. They arrange log cabins at their mouth with a tight-fitting lid. The blockhouse is upholstered with felt and the earth or sand is added to it.
Such a well provides water throughout the winter. On some takyrs, desert dwellers make pits, digs, to which grooves also feed. These are khaki - pits for storing rainwater. But in such khans, water happens only in the spring.
There are khaki paved with stones and surrounded by clay walls. A more complex and expensive structure is a sardoba. It is a rainwater storage complex made of stone, with high walls and a roof. In a good sardoba, water is stored throughout the year.
Sardobes are capital reservoirs, they were built, as a rule, on large caravan roads with a lively freight turnover. The Khorezm archaeological and ethnographic expedition led by the famous Soviet scientist S. P. Tolstov in the upper part of the Uzboy valley dug up the medieval sardoba Talaykhan-Ata, which collected rainwater from a nearby takyr.
The pond had a great depth, but eventually became silted up. And this sardoba lay on the caravan road. There was also a caravanserai. I had to meet the translation of the name "sardoba" - "merchant, merchant water." But most likely, the word "sar doba" is easier to translate as "cold water" ("sard" in Tajik - "cold").
In the underground storage, even in the hottest summers, the water is always cold. The construction, like a sardobe, I saw only once. This dashkhak is a monumental building on Unguz in the Turkmen Kara-Kum.
"Dashkhak" in Turkmen - "stone reservoir". Perfectly round in shape, 25 meters in diameter, it gave the impression of a dull fortress. Dashhak did not have a roof, so he cannot be considered a sardoba. In Afghanistan and Iran there is another type of reservoir obambar.
This is a water basement, underground covered with water, which is filled either with rain water, or temporarily operating streams, rivers. Obambar retains water well if its walls and bottom are made of waterproof material.
The origin of the name "obama bar" is very interesting. In many Iranian languages ​​“about” means “water”, “barn” - a word that is well known to us - “warehouse”, “storeroom”, “storage”. But in the old days it had a different meaning. In the Old Slavonic language, "ombor" is a vessel for water (let's compare the Greek "amphora").
While traveling, I did not have to see obambaras, but I heard a lot about them from my geography friends who traveled to Iran and Afghanistan. One of them saw a peculiar obambar in Iran, the nutrition of which was carried out not by surface waters, like a hack, sardoba or ordinary obambar, but by an underground groundwater flow. In principle, it was a well dug to the level of ground water, but having a huge diameter and a roof.
In such an obambar they descend along a neatly made wide stone staircase. In the dry mountains of Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, East Turkestan, Afghanistan and North Africa, you can see a wonderful building - kyariz. This is an underground drainage gallery.
How much patience, labor, and fiction do masters need to have kyariz affairs in order to build kyariz. Kyarizas reach several kilometers in length. Galleries are built in the direction of the ground flow. Kyariz opens such a stream, therefore, water accumulates in it, flowing in a stream along its bottom.
The power of the stream can be very different depending on the length of the kyariz and the thickness of the aquifer feeding it. In the foothills of the Kopetdag I first met with kyarizom and climbed into it. Kyarizo is damp, cool and dark; there the stream murmurs non-stop and the sounds of falling drops of water are heard.
It is difficult to walk along the kyariz: tightness makes you bend or crawl on your knees. It seems that just about - and it will be impossible to squeeze further between the two protrusions in the walls narrowing the passage.
But this fear is in vain. Soon it becomes lighter, diffused daylight pours from somewhere. I look up and freely straighten to my full height. This is the mine through which the builders of kyariz lifted rock to the earth's surface.
Involuntarily comes to mind a comparison with the underground mines, only the scales are different. I climb further, bending into three doom. In such a situation, crouching, for hours, days, months, the masters had to work on kyariz affairs!
What tools did they work with? In kyariz there is no place to swing a spade or to seize the earth and stone with a shovel. It is not without reason that the specialty of the kyariz builders is considered one of the important From time immemorial, a struggle was fought for springs, for wells.
The battle for water, for the possession of a well in the desert is the most difficult. An Arab proverb says: "He who does not bravely defend with the weapon of his pond, he will be destroyed." Wells have always attracted the attention of man; the people invested a lot of care, labor and thought in the construction of wells, hacks, sardobes, obambars, kyariz.
Is the question of collecting and storing water in the wells of the cheerle not really solved? We must pay tribute to the people's engineering invention, which was able to use ground salt water as a water-resistant layer for fresh water.
Many wells are digging in the deserts and now. But in the wells, water supplies are too small to provide irrigation and development of agriculture in deserts. Therefore, with the help of wells, a man builds giant reservoirs on mountain rivers, draws channels, irrigates yesterday's desert territories, which are now blooming with cheerful colors of cultivated plants.
Man conquers nature, and conquering, redoing it. This is a great work, but at the same time a great joy of the triumph of man over nature.

"Years of searching in Asia." Murzaev Eduard Makarovich.

Alexander Petrov.