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Uzbek arik traditions

We walk through uneven fields separated by irrigation dykes, the ariks, but for which nothing at all would grow. Some of them date from before the Christian era. Their waters were released on certain fixed dates, which were regulated by ancient custom. Officials called 'arik-aksakals' controlled them through 'mirabs' under their orders. The taxes payable to the Emir of Bokhara were calculated on the quantity of water the taxpayer had the right to demand, The 'aksakals' or 'white-beards' were paid in kind once the harvest was gathered in. But the rich beks who owned the water and distributed it as seemed good to them, compelled the peasants to pay whatever they demanded. Nowadays all this is scientifically regulated and the Co-operatives provide for the needs of the workers.

In the book written by Prince Massalski, a functionary of the Board of Agriculture, and published in 1913, I read that the author estimated the canals watering the country as stretching for twenty-five thousand miles. He was struck dumb with astonishment by what had been achieved by the primitive science of this people.

"Turkestan Solo" by Dervla Murphy