20 November 2016

The horse well, Lădești, Vâlcea county, 19th century

A common sight on mountain and hillside regions, „the horse well” is a simple and efficient public use edifice that entraps water. Built on the border between villages, the well is accessible to neighboring rural communities living in the area. The well indicates the existence of water and, in turn, water is the driving force of life. In Oltenia, this life-supporting quality a well embodies demands that building one be initiated with fasting and praying. As with all new constructions, the well should be ritualistically crowned with a fir tree. Finally, the owner must vow to never deny the thirsty traveler his rightful access to water.

Transferred to the museum from Serena, Lădești village, Vâlcea county, „the horse well” was built back in the 19th century and rounds the lineup of wells already featured in our permanent exhibition. In its time, this particular construction was referred to as „perșan well”, according to the sponsor’s family name. Unlike the horse wells built in Dobrogea, this construction collects spring water in a basin that is safeguarded by two wooden horizontal beams which end in carved horse heads. This is why this structure is called a „horse well”.

The key elements this well incorporates are: the actual well (or pit), the device that grants access to the aquifer and protective elements: the sides and the flat pitched roof, both built in oak wood. Right above the central section of the rear wall, the girder is arched. This widens the water access area. As a general rule, people would use a dipper to draw water from this type of well.

Considering their constructional elements, these wells are regarded as representations of how creative effort can be converted to adjust to the mundane necessities dictated by historical and natural context. The carved horse heads, the central planks and the naïve artwork created using all natural dyes and displayed on the front-side are artistic elements this monument features.