Page:Frederic Shoberl - Persia.djvu/193

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PART V.

ARTS AND SCIENCES.


CHAPTER I.

AGRICULTURE.

The extreme dryness of the climate and the groat deficiency of rivers, have obliged the Persian husbandmen to turn all their I ingenuity to the discovery of springs, and to the art of bringing their streams to the surface of the earth. To this end, when a spring has been discovered, they dig a well until they come to water; and if they find that the quantity is sufficient to repay them for proceeding with the work, they dig a second well, at such a distance from the other as to allow a subterranean communication between both. They then ascertain the nearest line of communication with the level of the plain upon which the water is to be brought into use, and dig a succession of wells with a subterraneous communication between the whole series, till the water at length comes to the surface, when it is conducted by embanked channels to the place of its destination.

The extent of country through which such streams are sometimes conducted, is truly astonishing. Mouths of wells are frequently to be seen in lonely valleys, and may be traced in various windings into the plain. Such is the consequence of a new kanaut or aqueduct, that the day when the water is brought to its ultimate destination is a day of rejoicing among the peasants. The astrologers are consulted to name a fortunate hour for the appearance of the stream, and when it comes forth, it is received with songs and music, attended by shouts of joy and exclamations of Mobatrek bashed! "Prosperity attend it!"

The labour and expense of a kanaut, of course depends greatly upon the distance whence the water is to be brought. The mode of making the well is very simple. A shaft is first dug, then a wooden trundle is placed over it, from which is suspended a leather bucket which is filled with the excavated matter by a man below and wound up by another above. Where the soil is soft, the mouth of the well is secured by masonry.

The mode of drawing water from these wells is as follows:—Two posts support a cylinder, which turns on an axis and is placed over the mouth of the well. From this cylinder descends a cord of sufficient length to reach the bottom, having a bucket fastened to one end, and being tied at the other to the collar or