The ancient ox-well wheel irrigation system, Punjab, Iran

The ancient ox-well wheel irrigation system, Punjab, Iran

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The story

Cattle play a very important role in the lives of farmers. They not only provide food but also assist in completing various tasks on the farm. Bulls or cows are particularly helpful in traditional irrigation methods, which are common in Punjab. In this traditional method, bulls pull up water from a well or other water source to irrigate the land. Farmers use a large wheel tied above the water source or well, and the bulls or cows move the wheel to fetch the water.

Haj-Ibrahim revived this system from 50 years ago using a specific breed of ox known locally as the Zaboli race (Zabol is a town in the southeast of Iran). It took over 6 months to train the ox, which was initially wild. The astonishing part is that the ox now works only when its owner sings. When Haj-Ibrahim starts singing, the ox begins working and fetching water from the well. Many such oxen can be found in the southeast of Iran or in the Baluchistan region of Pakistan.


The system mainly consists of a well, an ox, a rope, a pulley, and a bucket. This system pumps water to the fields without causing air pollution. An ox works for six hours a day and can supply water for a 1500 square meter wheat field, making it a highly efficient system. This system was widely used until 5 years ago when farmers gradually started using fuel-powered water-pumping machines. If you visit this complex, Haj-Ibrahim will offer you tea for an entrance fee of IRR50,000 (USD1.20).

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The ancient ox-well wheel irrigation system, Punjab, Iran

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