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Towers of silence

Towers of silence

The history of Zoroastrianism has a long history in Iran. While other civilizations were worshiping deities, Iranian believed in God. Nowadays, most of Zoroastrians are living in Yazd province, however some of them immigrated to India after the invasion of Arabs. Through the history so many religious buildings were built that silence towers are one of them. But it is not just an architecture, in fact it’s a combination of art and religion. So let’s go to get familiar with these amazing towers.

Towers of silence

Honestly there are several silence towers in Yazd province, but due to their locations, history and architecture some are more important. During 19th century Manekji limja Hataria, an Indian Zoroastrian man, was missioned by Zoroastrians Association to protest against Zoroastrians’ conditions. He also built a tower of silence in Yazd which is known by his name, Manekji tower. But later another tower was built near this one, as Manekji tower was a bit difficult to reach, it is called Gulestan tower. Obviously silence towers are different from some other tombs which belong to noblemen. Towers are just places of decomposition, not a place of burring corpses. In addition, they have to had some other features; such as having a suitable accessibility for animal, specially birds like vultures, being far from residential areas and having different sections for men, women and children. The use of towers has been prohibited due to health problems since about 60 years ago.

Towers of silence

Towers of silence

The architecture of towers

Towers of silence are cylindrical buildings, including different sections. Such as;

A-The road: towers are located far from residential areas in order to avoid diseases. But near the towers only a man called Salar was allowed to enter and do the rituals.
B-The entrance
C-The inscription
D-The men section: the outer part of the towers is
belonged to men
E-The women section: the middle part
F-The children section: the inner part
G-Assuary or a place for keeping bones: it is located in
the middle of the tower, like a hole, and connected to 4
other wells near the structure.

Towers of silence

In addition construction materials are cement, gypsum, stone and adobe. In fact, it started by hammering 4 nails into the ground, in four directions, then 36 nails and finally 260 other nails. After wrapping, connecting, them with threads, three times, they began singing ritual songs. At the end by throwing 300 stones into the area the project would be started. Moreover, there are some other buildings near the towers. They are:

A-The house of Salar: Salar is a person whom take corpses
and put them into the towers. He had to live there, far
from others, possibly if one had an infectious disease he
could be gotten ill.
B-Fire building: two persons lighted up a fire for three
days after one’s death. Because, according to
Zoroastrianism the ghost will wander around its corpse
for three days.
C-Born and death rooms: After one’s death, his or her
corpse was carried to these rooms for registering his or
her death, and also doing farewells.
D-Khileh: Zoroastrians used to carry dead bodies to the
towers which sometimes took time. In the distance of the
villages and towers there were some rooms, called Khileh,
being used to have short rest or maybe doing some
rituals.

Towers of silence

When they arrived to the towers, Salar carried the corpse to the tower and left it to decompose or feed by animals. When there were about 10 corpses, he would throw them into the central hole, the Assuary. In addition every couples of month he throw lame and phosphor into the central hole which helped decomposition of bones, and after becoming ashes a rain would move them into wells.

Towers of silence

Silence towers are places like cemeteries for Zoroastrians. In fact due to their religion, there are four sacred element, Air, Water, Soil, and Fire. If they bury corpses, it causes polluting the soil. Also if they drowned dead bodies, water will be polluted. In addition by burning them, fire and air will be polluted. So that’s why they built towers. Besides as a result of health problem, towers are located a bit far from residential areas. Finally, it has been prohibited to use these towers since Pahlavi era, more than 60 years ago.

About the author

Hamid Noori is a local tourist guide in Iran. He borned in june 3, 1991. First he studied industrial engineering at Shiraz university and worked in that field for a while but later he decided to pursue his dreams dealing with history. Now Hamid is a professional tourist guide.

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