Kariz Building is a National Art

August 24, 2016

Every course of our history going back to millenniums depicts the great glory of our nation. Ancient monuments, books, great works which include the information and truth of long years are thoroughly studied as spiritual-cultural values. One of our historical values that proves the existence of rich scientific resource of our nation is kariz (a system of wells connected by underground canals from which groundwater is drawn. Because karizs are not only related to crop agriculture, city civilization but also they tell us clearly about the history of using underground waters. If in the beginning irrigated cropping was introduced by using rivers, springs and brooks flowing from mountains, then afterwards the increase in the population, till of new fields led to the growth of demand for water. Thus, in this case, there emerged the necessity to make use of underground waters.

The scientists who study the history of karizs put forward their ideas based on a scientific basis that karizs were firstly used 5-6 thousand years ago. And, it implies that the first steps related with city civilization in our land were taken in exactly the same years. This is because karizs are considered and studied as the treasure of city construction civilization.
It is clear by itself that one needs to have deep scientific resource in order to use karizs. Drawing underground waters to long distances via special canals and reaching water to the above ground with its natural flow are fascinating conditions. Even if it seems an ordinary thing to draw underground waters above the ground at present time in the developed scientific epoch with the existence of different equipment and machines, the capability of doing so at the time of absence of so called scientific opportunities portray that people were successful in using their mind.

Building kariz is one of the characteristics of our ancestors, scientific values which passed from generation to generation. Taking into account scientific works about karizs and wells in the early Middle Ages, great concern was attached to water, which was considered as the source of life. The respect of our nation for water, the attitudes of using water, the methods of digging karizs and wells, and great works done on the basis of them enrich the pages of history. Our nation that has great practice in using underground waters later managed to draw waters to the difficult places like the tops of mountains and heights. At first, they collected only dry farming crops, then later on irrigated cropping started spreading on the slopes of mountains. The scientific resourcefulness introduced in these lands further developed and spread to neighbouring regions, distant countries. Because of that, it is very possible that the Turkmens are considered to be the first people who drew water to the height of Arafat Mountain near Kaabe, Mekke. In the work of Yusupibn Tanryberdi titled “Super starts in Egyptian and Cairo kingdom” (12th century) the Turkmens are mentioned as the people who built the mosque in Arafat and stairs leading to it, drew water to the Arafat mountain, and built pond and watermill there. Taking into account that the first scientific book about karizs and wells was written by the mayor of Khorosan, Abdyllaibn Tahyr (9th century), it is easy to understand that rich practice of the Turkmens in this field served as the main source. The works of ancient Greek historians mention karizs in Southern Parthia. Moreover, there is an information about the jikir (a Turkmen water wheel used for irrigating land) operated by trailers of animals.

The art of building kariz of our nation is a separate art by itself. Every step of it relies on scientific basis. The complex of wells connecting underground water flows are comprehensive water structure. Scientific reports claim the depth of some wells up to one hundred metres and the length of the underground connecting brooks to several kilometres. The construction of comprehensive hydro technical structure, that is, kariz sometimes lasted to several months. The water drawn from it was enough to irrigate wide crop fields.
Digging kariz requires great work. Great work gives great art. Our ancestors trusted the kariz digging work to trustful people. Because, people always behaved trustfully to the source of life, that is, water. Our forefathers passed the art of kariz digging from generation to generation. The chief kariz builder always had several helpers. Tools like pick-axe, small shovel, hoe, hammer, and file served as main equipment. They also used lamps with wicks whenever available. Lamps were vital to lighten the darkness of underground and continue the work. Firstly, the well of kariz was dug. More precisely, the well of kariz is called as “dikana” in regions where karizs are used frequently. The sand gathered from digging was taken above with special water skin, sacks via the wheel fixed to the door of the well. Necessary works for strengthening the walls of karizs, wells were also taken into account. Our forefathers strengthened kariz with special rocks, polished and smoothed walls. The distance between each well of kariz was about 20-30 metres.

The canal connecting to wells was called “sow”. The wells dug in special distances were important in controlling kariz water. Furthermore, they provided the ventilation of canals and helped to keep the taste of water. Moreover, they were also very suitable for using kariz water. Kariz sometimes went through special renovation and repair works. Taking into account all these, it was necessary to have enough engineering-construction concepts. Based on these reports we recognize that our ancestors who developed this field to the state of art had rich scientific resource. It is an exhausting work to dig wells connecting kariz, canals and sows. Because it requires to know high and low places of the ground, density and composition of the land, all the sciences, notions about ground and water in order to provide equal flow of water. If not clearly defined, it is possible that the passage dug underground may lead to some other way and water flow will not be equal. As the Turkmen kariz builders knew every detail of this work, they dug kariz in a right way. As a result of this, they caused the spread of their art, skill to neighbouring regions and other parts of the world. There are several proofs in history which claim that kariz works were characteristic to the Turkmens. Taking into account that the first centres of crop agriculture were in this land, the operation and wide usage of kariz played a great role in this context.

The importance of a drop of water was described in thousands of works, stories. Hundreds of scientists spoke about this sacredness. All of these go to one truth – water is the source of life. Where there is water, there is hope. Where flows water, there flourishes the life. Water is of great importance for all human being, animals, plants and nature. For that reason, our ancestors followed the saying “Where there is water, there is prosperous life”. It is the only life source which is considered more vital than bread. The respect of our nation to water is clearly depicted in the customs and traditions. The works of our nation in connection with water show that a drop of water is considered equal to gold. Kariz is the historical fact of great scientific achievements, successes of our nation.

Rahmet Gylyjow