The Tanka System

Crafts, Handlooms, Art, Sustainability, Sustainable Devt.

The Tanka System: The Parsi Craft of Water Harvesting

Kapadia, Kavas

The Zoroastrians brought the consciousness of water related rituals and the concept of harvesting water from ancient Iran. The tanka is a unique water harvesting system, providing pure drinking water at Parsi homes in Bharuch, South Gujarat. Following traditional methods of collecting rainwater, this system has a series of filters, which purify the water. The tanka is an underground tank, accommodated inside the house, preferably under the kitchen or dining room, made of chiselled blocks of stone, in lime mortar. It is unlined but made waterproof by an indigenous herbal mix which renders the inner surface waterproof, seals minor cracks and prevents bacteriological growth. The tanka is large enough to store sufficient drinking water for a family for six to eight months, its average capacity being around 25,000 litres. With sizes reaching nearly 20 feet by 60 feet and a height of 12 feet, arches and vaults are needed to support the earthwork and the superstructure on top of the tanka. The tanka is filled from rainwater collected through roof runoff. This simple system of collection, via a 3" to 4" pipe, depends on successive sumps whose water is collected and overflows on its way to the tanka. Settled impurities are flushed out through an overflow pipe. During the first days of the rainy season, water is made to run down the overflow pipe, ensuring a maximum cleaning of all surfaces. When the owner is certain of the cleanliness, done by constant visual testing a...
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