Well rings

I don’t know if well rings are peculiar to India, but they certainly seem ubiquitous here. Everywhere you go…

Until recently I used to wonder at the number of these monstrosities being made everywhere. I couldn’t think of a single thing that anyone might want them for. And then, suddenly, I find myself buying so many of them – twenty in the last two years, in fact. It’s crazy!

So what are these strange things anyway? When I started investigating, I found they actually have a long history. Not the hideous concrete ones you find today, of course, but terracotta well rings were used way back in 300 BCE, maybe even earlier. Too late, I found that you can get terracotta ones even today. Though they probably cost a bomb. (Why is everything cheap ugly? Is it so difficult to make something that looks halfway nice?)

Even in the old days, they had various uses, apart from lining wells: rituals, burials, etc. Some have bases, so they can hold water, and some don’t. They’re like children’s building blocks, really. You can think of all kinds of arrangements and uses for them. Let your imagination run wild! Srini is even thinking of building an additional bedroom with them, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to work!

These are the four things we’ve used them for so far:

1. Septic tank pit. The earlier ones were made of brick, and I guess they weren’t very well made. So here goes.

2. Lily ponds, two of them.

3. Compost bins for kitchen waste and some of the garden waste.

4. Rainwater harvesting filters. Five of these, to catch every bit of rain off our roof. They’re still a work in progress. One leaks, one slopes wrong, and they all need prettification. But just to show you the possibilities…

This is where it all ends up – a 25,000 litre underground storage tank. The top will be handy to dry stuff and make papads and so on.

Hopefully it’ll fill up by the end of the year. Then we can think of a pump to get it out. Right now we’re just praying for rain.

Have you used well rings? What for?

5 responses to “Well rings

  1. Well rings. Well…only large surprised eyes here. Didn’t know these existed. I can volunteer a painter – some warli paintings will look great on them, painting them a terracotta colour with white dancing warli figures might make them a lot more palatable. They don’t look super ugly but I see your point. Love your lotus pot. Just started one of mine, a pot dedicated to lillies and lotuses. Lotii? Lotuses sounds wrong.
    Feeling the same with solar lights right now – anything for a desk is so plasticky and it seems that finding a yellow light attached to a solar panel that I can set into a glass bottle or something aesthetic requires a few earth revolutions!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sangitha! I was also thinking Warli! If I can’t muster up the energy to attempt it myself within a reasonable time, I may take you up on your offer. Good luck with your lotii! and with the solar lights. I find the only people trying to preserve the traditional forms and materials are in Kerala. They do such good work with terracotta and wood and bamboo and laterite and stuff. Take a trip there and you might find your dream solar light!

      Liked by 1 person

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