Photographer's Note

Zoroastrians’ Dakhmeh is the place where the Zoroastrians kept their corpses after death with a special ceremony.
Dakhmeh is an ancient Persian word which is equal to the word “Tower of Silence” in English. And it is exactly the tower of silence because it’s on top of a mountain where is full of silence.
The Zoroastrians didn’t bury the dead body under the ground because they considered it impure. And since the soil was a sacred element to them, they believed if they put the body under the ground they make the soil foul. They similarly didn’t burn the body, because the fire was also a sacred element.

Therefore if they burned a corpse, which was not pure to them, they committed sin. Because the ashes and the light of the impure dead body might go up to the sky, which was improper and bad. So they put the corpses in Dakhmeh for the vultures and other birds to eat. Hence, only the bones of the dead body remained.

Dakhmeh was always far from the denizens or villages. Because it was a place where the wild animals or the birds gathered to eat the corpse so it wasn’t safe to be near the city. And it wasn’t also healthy for the people to be near the dead bodies for a long time. Although the process of eating the body mostly just took several hours.
All Dakhmehs have the same construction. First of all, there is only one door between Dakhmeh building and the road outside. The road didn’t have any steps at that time. But today, the steps are made in the Zoroastrians’ Dakhmeh of Yazd to make it easier for the visitors to get to the main building.

After that, there is a stone or iron door. This door is built to prevent the wild animals to find their way to the building to eat the corpse. Then there is the main building with a circular shape. There was a special place for each corpse according to its gender or age. Men were placed in the outer circle, women in the middle, and the children in the inner-most ring. Then in the centre of the circle is a deep hole where in the end the bones would be thrown in. According to the Zoroastrians’ religion, all the poor and riches will be in the same place after their death which is this hole. This means that no matter who you are, you are always equal to others, no matter you are richer or have a higher position.
Salar was the only person who could get into the Dakhmeh. He took the corpse from the family and carried the body to Dakhmeh, put it on the right spot and then left the place. Salar had a house near the Dakhmeh. He was the person who lived all his life in this place and couldn’t get out. Besides the Salar House, there are other small soil buildings near Dakhmeh. One of them is called the Fire Room. This room has a window faced with Dakhmeh. From the first night after putting the corpse in Dakhmeh till 3 night later, they should light up Dakhmeh from this place. There were two men who were responsible for lighting a fire from the window to Dakhmeh and keeping it burning till the morning.

There are two Towers of Silence in Yazd. The other one in the Workshop. The view of inside the tower also in Workshop.


Better see in the large format

The other tower

Inside the tower/a>

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Additional Photos by Malgorzata Kopczynska (emka) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 13592 W: 141 N: 35225] (158784)
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