Tracing Narratives in Landscapes
Tracing Narratives in Landscapes

Tracing Narratives in Landscapes

Tutor: Prachi Nadkarni

Landscapes as a by-product of interaction between man & nature, have many stories associated with them. The image of a landscape is to some extent the visual evidence of the stories that lie beneath. We observed the “Image” of landscape further in detail and tried identifying the hidden links and ended up with interesting narratives within it!

1. Landscape as a floating ecosystem

About the floating cultivation of crops in Inle Lake, Myanamar
Ritik Jain

Located in Shan state, Inle lake is famous for its traditional practice of floating agriculture and leg- rowing fishing. Surrounded by Shan range of hills on both sides, Inle lake receives good amount of rainfall with annual rainfall more than 1370 mm. Water from rivers sourcing from Shan range maintain the overall water level of the lake. Since the lake is formed from the flowing water of rivers, it is rich in nutrients which makes conditions favourable for farming.

Ye- Chan, the traditional practice of the floating island is one of the important system for this lake. The main purpose of Ye- Chan is cultivation of vegetables and flowers. Tomatoes are most grown in this system. These “floating gardens” are made of water hyacinth heaped with sediment to form small floating islands. Roots of Water Hyacinth absorbs all the sediments from water. Its dense root network invites fishes to breed. Its roots also helps in maintaining the nitrogen level of water produced by wish waste. (refer illustration)

Along with agriculture, villagers also practice their traditional leg- rowing fishing techniques. It is the second most practiced activity of this lake. However, the leg rowing style is only practiced by the men. Women still row in the customary style, holding the oars while sitting in the boat. As the village is settled on lake, the water level keeps changing because of frequently occurring flood, so the Inthas started constructing houses on stilts. 

The Inthas have developed a very advance system of floating gardens or farming practices and unique fishing techniques. The lake is an intriguing example of a landscape which is a floating ecosystem in itself!

References :

2. Landscape as a Geological Process

About the formation and geology of Vancouver Island and Nanoose Bay
Aaniya Desai

The geology of Nanoose Bay is complex and contains some of the oldest rocks found on Vancouver Island. These include igneous, metamorphic, sedimentary rocks along with glacially derived tills and eskers left behind from the last Ice Age. Much of the rock that makes up Vancouver Island originated 3,000 kilometres south near the equator in the Pacific Ocean. It is part of a large piece of crust called Wrangellia. 380 million years ago, some of the oldest rock that makes up present day Vancouver Island was formed by undersea lava deposits and limestone (blues and greys on the map). 280 to 225 million years, further volcanic activity formed lava flows and limestone on the sea floor. Wallace Point is largely made up of these latter rocks (green on the map). 185 million years ago, igneous rocks intruded the older rocks which formed the eastern part of the peninsular and Winchelsea islands (pink on the map). About 100 million years ago, Wrangellia collided with the North American continent. Tremendous forces buckled the rocks into mountain ranges. A basin formed about 85 to 65 million years ago and sediments of the Nanaimo Group were laid down, together with the important coal deposits found along the eastern side of VI. ​The lime green areas on the map consist of sandstones, shales and conglomerates, often containing abundant fossils. 

The Earth has been subjected to many glacial and interglacial periods, throughout its history. Between 29,000 and 15,000 years ago, the most recent glacial period or “ice age” developed. The ice sheets cut major features in the landscape, including the steep mountain peaks and U-shaped valleys seen everywhere in BC. Their weight was enough to depress the landmass of Vancouver Island by 150 to 300 metres which caused the sea level at the time to be much higher than today. Between 15,000 years before present and today, the climate began to warm, slowly melting the ice sheets. The release of the weight of ice caused the land to rebound. This exposed areas of land that were previously submerged. In place of the ice sheets, large deposits of glacial till were left. Lakes, like Enos and Dolphin Lakes formed, and streams and rivers formed from melting ice.​

Landscapes are a result of many processes, geological process, being one of them. The landform history influences the representation of a landscape and its naturally occurring elements. Landscape continues to develop and change over time and maybe after another hundred million years, the Nanoose Bay will be a completely different place!


3. Landscape as the Idea of Picturesque

About the stunning beauty of Dal Lake, Kashmir
Aishwarya Mahajan

Surrounded by the magnificent Himalayan snow capped mountain peaks, the Dal Lake reflects the mountains and the vegetation around it. The mountain ranges create an extraordinary backdrop for the lake. As the sun shines bright in the sky above, the lake seems to be glittering. The air seems to be thin and you feel the wind as it passes by. The atmosphere is peaceful and all you see around is water.

The cool colors of the sky and the vegetation are contrasted by the bright warm colors of the Shikaras that are parked in rows, they being the mode of transportation in the lake. Shikaras are the soul of Dal lake. A relaxing and scenic shikara ride is as good as meditating in the beauty of nature. Floating markets set up on the boats carry vegetables, fruits and flowers. The flower shikaras make the lake look full of life with its infinite range of colours. Houseboats in kashmir, locally famous as floating palaces show beautiful wooden carving is truly eye-catching. They are also known as floating palaces. ​

Indeed there is something magical about this place and every part of the landscape offers beautiful scenery and visuals. The very idea of picturesque can be seen and experienced in this place.

“Gar firdaus bar-rue zamin ast, hami asto, hamin asto, hamin ast.” 
“If there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here,

4. Landscape as Sacred Geometry

About the mythological story of Naini Lake, Nainital and its connect with a larger landscape space
Sejal Bodke

Naini Lake is a natural freshwater body, situated in the town of Nainital. Nainital name is derived from two words Naina which mean ‘eye and tal means ‘lake’ as the lake is believed to have a eye shape. 

According to Hindu mythology, Sati the wife of Lord Shiva leapt into raging flames of fire as she couldn’t tolerate that her father insulted Lord Shiva. So Lord Shiva tenderly took Sati’s body in his arms and made his way to Kailash Parvat. On his way the eyes of Sati dropped in Nainital and the lake was formed due to her tears. Later Nani Devi temple was built which was dedicated to Sati.

The places were Sati’s other 50 parts or ornaments fell also became Sacred Places of worship and are called Peethas. The locations of these 51 shakti-peethas are spread across India and some are in Pakistan & Nepal. Most of these 51 locations are naturally occurring landscape features like hills and lakes, all of them having story similar to the one for Naini Lake. 

If one was to connect all these 51 locations, one would achieve an intricate pattern of geometry on a map (Refer Illustration). With such deep mythological connections in the landscapes and the sacredness that every point holds on the map, such geometry could perhaps be called a ‘sacred’ one that connects a larger landscape space.

Reference  :

5. Landscape as Home

About the nature-dependent life of people in Osla village, Uttarakhand 
Ishita Dedhia

A typical household in Osla village has cattle, a flock of sheep and mountain goats, and several farms. The women of the village do the farming at Kalkatiyadhar which is a two hour trek from Osla as the terrain of Osla is not suitable for farming. A good part of the income here comes from men working as porters or using up their mules and horses. As wood is the primary source for firewood, construction and furniture, the villagers carry  it from the forest on a regular basis. The wooden homes have a roof of varied flat stones procured from forest which gives the necessary protection during winter. The village is surrounded by a huge amount of apple trees. There are two to three pipes that supply water into the village through the Supin river. They have a community laundry area where the clothes are washed by stomping. The villagers weave their own warm jackets by spinning yarn with sheep wool. 

The village gives a distinct contrast to urban life. Their whole life is dependent on nature. Their beliefs, age old practices and simplicity have knitted them together. Though living a difficult life, the villagers have learnt to smile through it.

References :

6. Landscape as a Resource

About the Urban Landscape of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 
Rashi Kondwilkar

In the valleys and along the rivers Allegheny and Monongahela, different tribes  settled along the banks of rivers, in history. They used the rivers for navigation and fishing. US Army invaded Pittsburgh in 1758 and they found this land with abundance of natural resources. Commencement of trade by waterways was introduced. (Phase 1 Ref. Illustration)

Settlements grew and the location of confluence of the 2 rivers became an opportunity as a commercial gateway to the new settlements. Rapid industrial growth led to shaping of the river banks and augment the floodplain to provide a transport corridor for commercial trade. Later, the introduction of railways drew away the attention at the trade on river-waters.  The river water was now used for household and industrial consumption and waste was dispatched to the river, making the rivers polluted. (Phase 2 Ref. Illustration) and losing city’s Economic value.

In recent times, the civic leaders of Pittsburgh reviewed the rivers as natural features providing valuable scenic and opportunities for recreational amenities. They thought it was important to include these attributes in the new regional development strategy. In 1960, the decision for revitalization of the rivers was made to improve city’s economic value and also to bring back the lost historical importance of three rivers. (Phase 3 Ref. Illustration) 

The settlements in Pittsburgh have looked at it’s natural features – the rivers, from  points of view that have changed with the changing human needs and times. And that’s not true only for the city of Pittsburgh. While we humans have been modifying and conquering land for our own benefit, the Landscape, perhaps has constantly been a resource which is exploited for many values that it offers – those being scenic, ecological, economical, social and cultural.

Reference :

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You cannot copy content of this page

%d bloggers like this: