Storing fuel in Karakul (1)

Marjolein Katsma

Groningen, Netherlands

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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, wall, plaster, plastered, turves, dung

Walls are not just separators or bearers of roofs. A wall can also be a storage area in several ways: you can hang things off it, lean things against it, or – if it’s sufficiently thick, and flat on top – stack things on top of it. Surround your courtyard with a wall rather than a fence, and you automatically have extra storage space!

The latter method is what we see here: neatly stacked on top of a wall are turves, to be used in the cast-iron stoves found in every house here. Burning wood, which is so scarce here that every scrap of it is reused and reused again, is naturally out of the question. Karakul sits firmly above the tree level.

But people keep yaks and maybe some goats, which produce dung, which actually is a good fuel material. So the dung is gathered (it’s useless as fertilizer since agriculture is not possible here either), and made into fuel. Basically there are two methods for doing that. Both start with dung, and maybe some extra straw, mixed together with some water. Then you can hand-form small ‘patties’, leave them out to dry, and stack them up – in a yard, or on top of a flat roof. Or you make a shallow, rectangular pit in which you thoroughly mix the dung and straw, and then smooth it and leave it to dry. When it’s almost dry, cut it into rectangular pieces – exactly as with turf harvested for fuel! When they’re a bit drier, they can be taken out to dry individually, and when they’re dry enough you can stack them up on a wall.

And the result of the second method is what you are seeing here.

Camera: Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1

Artwork Comments

  • Gavin Kerslake
  • Marjolein Katsma
  • IndraniYah
  • Marjolein Katsma
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