We are in the process of upgrading software and the SDN website will be temporarily unavailable for a few hours on Monday morning EST. Once the software is upgraded, this notice will no longer appear and the site will be back to normal. We apologize for any inconvenience.
  • Image 1 of 24

The Wakhan: Fellowship of the Harvest

Ira Jacob | Tajikistan

With a belch of smoke a tractor drives over sheaves of wheat in Yamchun village in the Wakhan. A heavy threshing board of bound logs is pulled behind the tractor to thresh the wheat grain from the stalks. Men take turns winnowing, tossing the stalks into the air, while the tractors are driven in continuous circles. Children often sit on the threshing board to increase its weight and for the joy of an unconventional ride. Using a tractor can reduce a family’s threshing time from weeks to a number of days.

The Wakhan, stretching across a region of Tajikistan, Afghanistan and China, is in the middle of an industrial revolution. It's a merging point of imposing mountain ranges and friendly people.

Harvest in the Wakhan is a season of friendship. For centuries, the Wakhi used donkeys for threshing wheat, a seasonal task mixed with the fellowship of breaking bread and shared tea.

The efficiency of machines has found its way to the Wakhan. Families are beginning to use tractors and mechanical threshers. A family's weeks-long task can now be accomplished in a day or two. As a result, family and friends rely less on each other.

In a world where people like the Wakhi struggle to live, and travelers still yearn for the nostalgia of a time past, the real cultural change is in the fellowship of the harvest, the gathering of a people.

As machines replace man and beast, the greatest obstacle of this industrial revolution is not the strategy of harvest, but the community of harvest, and how to preserve cultural and community customs in the midst of change.

ira@irajacob.com, www.irajacob.com

Content loading...

Make Comment/View Comments