Faithful Wells and Distant Bells

There is something about wells and bells that evokes strong memories and emotions, making them interesting subjects in photography. How wishing wells evolved suggests a belief that some wells have mystical powers other than their practical uses.  How some real wells have existed and provided valuable water to mankind for centuries make them treasured structures in communities, silent witnesses to various events in history, and humble landmarks to places both famous and obscure.  On the other hand church bells have an eerie effect because they either signal a solemn time or proclaim news good and bad; an angelus, christening of a new life, wedding of two souls, an impending danger, or death of a loved one — all contribute to make the bell a symbol of an intense feeling.

I’ve included photos of three wells and a set of bells in this post. I’m not sure if my thoughts above motivated me to take these photos but they probably did in the subconscious part of my mind.  I took three of the photos in Georgia (the country) this year and the fourth one in Mongolia quite some time ago. Tell me what you think.

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"Well at Bagrati"

“Well at Bagrati” / Georgia 2011 [ Bagrati Cathedral, Kutaisi] :  The 11th Century Bagrati Cathedral in Georgia’s second largest city of Kutaisi sits on top of a hill just above the city.  It was destroyed in one of the Ottoman wars and has been under renovation since then.  This antique well dominates the grounds under a shady tree near the entrance to the cathedral.  The ruins provide a magnificent view of the historic city (at the background) but I chose to focus this photo on the well and a nearby cross, apt symbols of a certain period in Georgia’s history.

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"The Bells of Jvari"

“The Bells of Jvari” / Georgia 2011 [Mtsketa, the old capital city]:  The 6th Century Jvari Monastery sits on top of a hill and provides a fantastic panoramic view of the surrounding mountains, rivers and the old capital city of Mtsketa.  It was a cloudy morning when we went up the hill and one of the first photos I took once we have entered the monastery compound was of this set of bells hanging from a wooden structure that precariously stood by a cliff.  I don’t know if the bells were rung individually or in combination but I’m sure that each of these bells has a role in sending a message to the households in the plains below.

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"Saint Mathhias' Well"

Saint Matthias‘ Well” / Georgia [ Batumi, Adjara Autonomous Region]:   The Gonio Fortress, in the village of  Gonio not far from Batumi in the Adjara Region of Georgia is believed by some scholars to have been the center of Roman power in western Georgia in 2nd century AD.  According to history, Christianity was first preached in the kingdoms of Georgia by the apostles Simon and Andrew in the 1st Century.  Another Apostle, Saint Matthias, the replacement of Judas Iscariot, is said to have preached in this part of Georgia and was buried inside the Gonio Fortress so I christened this well found inside the fortress’ ruins “Saint Matthias’ Well”.  I did not feel any particular miracle though when I took a drink from it but it probably quenched the thirst of many Roman soldiers.

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"A Nomad's Well of Life"

“A Nomad’s Well of Life” / Mongolia 2005 [ Gobi Desert, Umno Govi Province] : Coming from the tropics where there is almost an uncontrollable abundance of grass and water, I couldn’t help but be amazed at how livestock can survive in the arid lands of the Gobi Desert.  On my second visit in 2005, we chanced upon this nomadic herder giving water to his herd from a desert well.  His ger (tent) is visible in the background  as well as the sand dunes of Gobi farther in the horizon.  The value of this well to herders must be tremendous.

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