Outbuilding in Karakul

Marjolein Katsma

Groningen, Netherlands

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  • Artwork Comments 8

Artist's Description

Share this page Photo © 2009 Marjolein Katsma | Text © 2012 Marjolein Katsma

Tags for this photograph:
karakul, kara kul, qaraqul, murghab, murghob, gorno badakhshan, tajikistan, pamirs, outbuilding, outhouse, outdoor toilet, john, johnny, shithouse, latrine, car, car wreck, privacy, fence

It took me a while to work out what this little outbuilding in Karakul was for. It was the brightly-colored car wreck that drew my attention, but while I was circling around to find a good vantage point to take a picture of it, I suddenly saw a man walking up to it, and disappearing behind the car wreck: suddenly it dawned on me: this wasn’t just a shed with a wreck ‘parked’ in front of it, but an outhouse, with the car serving as a ‘privacy fence’ on the men’s side (the women go to the other side and can enjoy a view of Lake Karakul while doing their business…)

Given there is no running water in Karakul (there are a few hand-operated pumps installed that provide clean ground water), there are no ‘bathrooms’ either. Usually a few families share an outhouse for toilet facilities. This one is actually rather fancy, with the brightly-colored car wreck, and – even more remarkable – horns of a Marco Polo sheep on the roof.

The Marco Polo sheep is an animal that is worshiped in Tajikistan (where most of these wild sheep live in the Pamir region) – a bit of animism in their culture that is still quite alive, dating back from even before Buddhism, and later Islam came here, which was mixed in with the local versions of these newer religions. Road-side shrines with lots of these horns, inside and outside, are not an uncommon sight in Tajikistan, but this outhouse is!

Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1

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Karakul Cultural Surfaces

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Artwork Comments

  • Cecily  Graham
  • Marjolein Katsma
  • Hans Bax
  • Marjolein Katsma
  • Sheryl Gerhard
  • Marjolein Katsma
  • Ethna Gillespie
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