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jajagappa

Where in Glorantha?

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While we get occasional postings over in the G+ group for "Where in Glorantha" questions, I don't think we have one here.

These stepwells have to be somewhere in Glorantha.  While Esrolian cities certainly have cisterns (and could have features like these), I wonder if these would exist in Teshnos or perhaps even have some at the borders of the Wastes?  

ChandBaori.jpg

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You would need a place with very irregular rainfall to warrant the effort to build such wells.

I looked up the source for the image, which did mention the sanitary problems these cisterns had, so I wondered if we place such edifices in Glorantha, what kind of water entity would we want to invite into such a construction.

These wells serve the dual purpose as reservoirs for drinking water and as facilities for ritual cleansing, with a third use as a refuge from too hot days. When we discussed the saltiness of the Gloranthan seas, I realized that elemental water doesn't want to be devoid of minerals or life (such as algae or minuscule crabs, or smaller life forms like amoebae which may be unknown but still present in Glorantha).

Potability is not a concern of the water entity.

Purity is a virtue of the waters, but that purity doesn't necessarily result in clear and potable water.  A turbid river is a happy river, having accrued plenty of "Food" to carry back the the All Waters. Having sent most of its energies into Magasta's maelstrom, it has little energy left to separate its flows, and usually none to create the counterflows of clear, hungry water which allowed the Godtime rivers to invade the land.

But rivers have their connection to the Sea, and in a way a river continues from its headwaters all the way into Magasta's Pool. At the very least, you could have cultists of Engizi at Deeper, below the exit of Choralinthor Bay.

What about water entities without such (obvious) connections?

When I look at the rivers and oases of western Prax, I cannot help but think of subterranean aquifers. The fact that the River Horse is able to jump from oasis to oasis sort of corroborates that subterranean connection - it shouldn't be able to jump into a man-made reservoir isolated from the All Waters.

But there is another class of water entities, those of standing waters like lakes, bogs and even seas.

If you look at the sea entities as presented in the Guide or the Missing Lands (which has a few more entities) you will notice strange names apparently without function, like the "wives" of Magasta or Lorion, Benara and Boveluru. What is the function of these?

They are bodies of water, without any concern for movement or energy, but simply the presence of the water as making up a greater whole - collective entities that don't mind that their substance is shared by currents, fish or plants. Bays (like Choralinthor or Maslo), lakes and bogs are just like this, too.

And so would a water entity fed only by the hungry waters of Heler, without any other connection to the All Waters - a water entity of a rainwater cistern.

I described Heler's waters as clear and hungry. They will joyfully perform cleansing as to them it means feeding. However, this will accumulate a lot of food, which may make the body of water turbid and satiated.

I think that all waters desire to share their food with the All Waters. They don't quite mind if they become muddy bogs as long as they convey those energies to the All Waters. The sediment may be dumped, it has lost the appeal as food for the Seas, but its energies remain.

 

How does a water entity "feel" or think about being drunk or irrigating a field?

In a way, it might welcome the opportunity to spread out its self.

I think that a Gloranthan has a different notion of self than a typical European or American. For us, our sensations end at the membrane of our skin. Our "distance senses" of sight, hearing, smell and heat only register what interacts with that membrane.

An Orlanthi (a person strong in the air rune) has awareness of the air around him - his breath. A person strong in Fire or Light will have an awareness wherever his sight falls, beyond just receiving a picture of what is going on in his field of sight. A person strong in the Earth rune will be in communion with the soil she touches beyond just that layer that has skin contact. Darkness probably gives a sense of space, of "thereness", in addition to whichever experiences material Darkness may give that our world has no equivalent of. And a person strong in the Water rune will be able to  interact with the waters around them - feeling the raindrops before they even hit their bodies or the ground around them, and feeling them flow on. (Trying hard to keep ablutions out of this... I'll leave those to the Trickster-possessed.)

So, any water that an entity strong in the water rune has "touched" (interacted with) will expand its perceptions or its self. Sharing a portion of its extended body will expand its presence, although only up to a point where its essence gets diminished.

 

So, a cistern could of course be nothing but a container where water is collected. But a water temple as elaborate as such a step cistern will most certainly have a spirit/deity/essence inhabiting the water. It will quite likely have a conch near the bottom of that cistern where it can retreat in the case of extreme draught that might dry up the cistern. And once a year, preferably at the end of the dry spell, this conch will have to be removed from its resting place near the bottom of that well, and carried in a huge procession to the river or the sea, where it will share all the energies it has fed upon with the All Waters, and then return to its resting place. And as soon as the conch starts upon its annual pilgrimage, the priesthood will oversee a dredging of the mud and a scrubbing of the stairs. It is quite possible that the waters of this well or cistern will be declared taboo for a week or two, as the entity will need to rest from its journey, and make itself at home again.

It is quite possible that the regulars of this cistern forego all use of untreated water (except for rain) for the two weeks of this taboo, and consume only (diluted) wine or thin beer during this recovery of the well. There will be no dip-bathing in this time (but other methods like steam-bathing and lathering the skin with oils will be available), but there may of course be rain-dancing.

This does sound like a good Sea Season festival for the three rainwater cisterns around Grace Temple (Haraheler's, Harenalda's and Voriof's Catch), and set those immigrants apart from the rest of the Esrolian-descended people of Nochet. It will attract people sharing the festivities from other quarters, nonetheless, and the local houses will be expected to grant hospitality (and beverages) to the pilgrims who went to the cisterns performing their sacrifices there (carrying a small container of sediment or dirt from that cistern?) which they can show as a badge for getting a drink.

If the festival is a moveable festival starting with the first rains of Sea Season, part of the worship service might be to carry water from the catchment areas for rainwater in that district up to the upper outer wall of the cistern, where there are Pythagorean cups that need to be filled by the worshipper. An attending acolyte will grant the token that allows the subsequent debauchery when the supplicant's cup has emptied itself.

The baths  using rainwater in this district might have such descending stairwells. They will probably have a funnel drainage at the bottom, too, which leads to a "mud well" where the sediment can be dredged up without disturbing the waters in the bath. 

I don't think the cisterns themselves will have these stairwell, though. All cisterns are likely to have some sediment collecting drainage. Those cisterns connected to the three aqueducts probably have a flow-through system, with height-adjustable exit pipes that drain from a certain water depth to take the muddier water from below out into the sewers.

 

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

So, a cistern could of course be nothing but a container where water is collected. But a water temple as elaborate as such a step cistern will most certainly have a spirit/deity/essence inhabiting the water. It will quite likely have a conch near the bottom of that cistern where it can retreat in the case of extreme draught that might dry up the cistern. And once a year, preferably at the end of the dry spell, this conch will have to be removed from its resting place near the bottom of that well, and carried in a huge procession to the river or the sea, where it will share all the energies it has fed upon with the All Waters, and then return to its resting place. And as soon as the conch starts upon its annual pilgrimage, the priesthood will oversee a dredging of the mud and a scrubbing of the stairs. It is quite possible that the waters of this well or cistern will be declared taboo for a week or two, as the entity will need to rest from its journey, and make itself at home again.

Yes, I like the idea of such an annual ritual.

4 hours ago, Joerg said:

This does sound like a good Sea Season festival for the three rainwater cisterns around Grace Temple (Haraheler's, Harenalda's and Voriof's Catch), and set those immigrants apart from the rest of the Esrolian-descended people of Nochet. It will attract people sharing the festivities from other quarters, nonetheless, and the local houses will be expected to grant hospitality (and beverages) to the pilgrims who went to the cisterns performing their sacrifices there (carrying a small container of sediment or dirt from that cistern?) which they can show as a badge for getting a drink.

It's especially interesting since the inhabitants of the Sarli district around the Grace Temple are mostly Sartarites and Heortlings.  I think the entities in these cisterns will definitely be called Heler's children, so of a more divine nature.  I'm wondering whether this would be in Sea Season, though?  The dry season is likely to be Earth Season, or perhaps early Dark Season.

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1 minute ago, jajagappa said:

Yes, I like the idea of such an annual ritual.

It's especially interesting since the inhabitants of the Sarli district around the Grace Temple are mostly Sartarites and Heortlings.  I think the entities in these cisterns will definitely be called Heler's children, so of a more divine nature. 

Sure, when it is Nochet we are dealing with. I tried not to place this anywhere in Glorantha before deciding which culture would be best for having such edifices.

I keep wondering how the rainwater for these cisterns is gathered. After all, you need a separate "sewer" system from that draining the streets if you plan to use the water as drinking or bathing water.

Unless you design your sewer system with an in-built "flaw" of allowing only a limited throughput to go out through the sewer. A similar trick is used for mixed rainwater/wastewater sewers when faced with strong rain events. The first flow will clean out the pipes, washing all the sedimented dirt along the main sewer lines. Then, when more water enters the sewer than can be treated by the wastewater plant, there are special overflow buildings which allow the subsequent rainwater with negligible amounts of waste water to enter the river almost untreated (there will be a sedimentation basin).

I don't think that the Nochet sewers will be used as the main disposal alley of nightsoil. Human and animal excrements will most likely be collected for fertilizer. Urine collection for tanneries, alchemical purposes etc. might be established, too. (Are there Out-Houses of Nochet?)

But still, the roads will accrue quite a bit of "Food" for the seas that you wouldn't want in your drinking water, so a "flush first, then collect" architecture sounds reasonable to me.

I still expect that the water will be stored in tall above-ground cisterns rather than in holes in the ground, simply to avoid contamination in strong rain events.

The original step wells come from a culture familiar with irrigation, so they might have a similar approach, possibly using ditches and above-ground basins, to fill their reservoirs.

 

1 minute ago, jajagappa said:

I'm wondering whether this would be in Sea Season, though?  The dry season is likely to be Earth Season, or perhaps early Dark Season.

I have to admit that I started writing about such a ritual before placing it in Nochet. So what are the weather patterns in the rain-shade of the Skyreach Mountains? Storm Season will deposit snow up in the mountains, but what will the valley between Skyreach/Mislari and the Caladran chain receive? How dry does it get in the valley bottom?

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14 hours ago, scott-martin said:

I always think of the descending pyramid of Dezarpovo with slightly different angles.

That very image was my personal reference for Dezarpovo when I wrote the Guide. 

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

I don't think that the Nochet sewers will be used as the main disposal alley of nightsoil. Human and animal excrements will most likely be collected for fertilizer.

Yes, the trollkin of the Dark Warrens are put to good use (along with other collectors).  Black Esrola must be honored!

51 minutes ago, Jeff said:

That very image was my personal reference for Dezarpovo when I wrote the Guide

Going back to the Guide, and checking Dezarpovo, I can definitely see that.  

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

That very image was my personal reference for Dezarpovo when I wrote the Guide. 

 

It is sort of ironic that Entekosiad p.85 actually tells us that, while the place still is called the Descending Pyramid, it now is a four-tier step pyramid rising next to that original stairwell to the Underworld. But then the Entekosiad gives two numbers for the stairs on that pyramid, one as 295, the other as 514.5 (yes, half a step).

Speaking of descending pyramids/ziggurats, there is one depicted in the copper tablets, or rather an inverted round tower. Strangely enough, this is shown to the southwest of Raibant rather than the northwest, where Pelanda lies.

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Seems like a rather inefficient and wasteful design to me.  All those steps have no point; the same purpose could be served by having one set of steps at each corner (or even a single set of steps) to access the terraces.

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36 minutes ago, Yelm's Light said:

Seems like a rather inefficient and wasteful design to me.  All those steps have no point; the same purpose could be served by having one set of steps at each corner (or even a single set of steps) to access the terraces.

"No point" physically, but what about mythical significance/benefits? Those platforms on the way down could act as platforms for those taking part in or watching ceremonies there.

 

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1 hour ago, Yelm's Light said:

Seems like a rather inefficient and wasteful design to me.  All those steps have no point; the same purpose could be served by having one set of steps at each corner (or even a single set of steps) to access the terraces.

Depends on the number of people you need to lead down to the water and up again at a time, and the water level in the cistern. After the monsoon, it should be topped off. Depending on the water level, you can have 8 queues (at the level depicted) up to three or four times that many.

These places were also used as climatized sitting area, where lots of stairs create lots of seats.

 

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