Towers of Silence

Circular stone platforms or towers erected on hills on which Parsees of India dispose of their dead according to the Zoroastrian rite. Such towers, built of stone or brick, are about 25 feet high and have gratings on which the dead are left. After the corpses have been devoured by vultures, the bones fall into a pit below, thereby satisfying the Zoroastrian injunction that corpses, which are seen as extremely polluting, should not defile the earth or have contact with fire.

Quick Facts

Go Historic ID
2733
Names
towers of silence
tower of silence
dahkmes
dakhmas
dokhmas
dokmehs
daxmas
torens der stilte Dutch
toren der stilte Dutch
torens van het zwijgen Dutch
torres del silencio Spanish
torre del silencio Spanish

More Definitions

Circular stone platforms or towers erected on hills on which Parsees of India dispose of their dead according to the Zoroastrian rite. Such towers, built of stone or brick, are about 25 feet high and have gratings on which the dead are left. After the corpses have been devoured by vultures, the bones fall into a pit below, thereby satisfying the Zoroastrian injunction that corpses, which are seen as extremely polluting, should not defile the earth or have contact with fire. The actual towers are seen as threats to purity and therefore can only be entered by professional corpse-bearers who take ritual precautions before entering and undergo rites of purification after leaving the profession. Some members of the Zoroastrian community want to abandon this ancient way of disposing of the dead but others staunchly adhere to it.

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Bibliography

  1. 1.  The Getty Art & Architecture Thesaurus, 300005880. The J. Paul Getty Trust.