Showing posts with label Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Zoroastrianism. Zoroaster. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Iran | Yazd | Zoroastrian Fire Temple

After visiting the Towers of Silence in Yazd I wandered by the Zoroastrian Fire Temple. Zoroastrianism is still practised in Iran and may be experiencing a Revival in Iraq.  A dozen or more people came to worship at the Yazd temple while I was there. 
The Fire Temple Grounds (click on photos for enlargements)
The Fire Temple
Faravahar, shown above on roof of the temple porch is one of the best-known symbols of Zoroastrianism. Below is an Explanation of the symbol: 

1. The figure inside is that of an old man, representing wisdom of age. 2. There are two wings in two sides of the picture, which have three main feathers. These main feathers indicate three symbols of "good thoughts, good words, and good deeds," which are at the same time the motive of flight and advancement. 3. The lower part of the Faravahar consists of three parts, representing "bad reflection, bad words and bad deeds" which causes misery and misfortune for human beings. 4. There are two loops at the two sides of the Faravahar, which represent positive forces and negative forces.  The former is directed toward the face and the latter is located at the back. This also indicates that we have to proceed toward the good and turn away from bad. 5. The ring in the center symbolizes the eternity of universe or the eternal nature of the soul. As a circle, it has no beginning and no end. 6. One of the hands points upwards, indicating that there is only one direction to choose in life and that is forward. The other hand holds a ring and some interpreters consider that as the ring of covenant and used in wedding ceremonies representing loyalty and faithfulness which is the basis of Zartosht's philosophy. This means when a true Iranian gives a promise, it is like a ring and it cannot be broken. 
Meanwhile, the American rapper, Roaster, and serial stoner Snoop Dogg has managed to Seriously Annoy Zoroastrians by appropriating this symbol. Also see Parsis Miffed. They claim Snoop is “insensitive towards the religious beliefs of one of the oldest monotheistic religions in the world.” Snoop Dogg being insensitive toward religions, imagine that! This is a guy who says he celebrates “Bong Kippur”. 
Snoop chillin’ with Faravahar. And I thought he was a Rastafarian!
The Sacred Flame in the temple. Reportedly it has been burning continuously since A.D 470, although not always at this location. It is behind glass, so it is difficult to get a photo without reflections. That’s me taking the photo.
The Sacred Flame
Inside the small museum attached to the temple is an artist’s rendering of Zoroaster, founder of Zoroastriansim (no one knows what he really looked like) with the holy texts of Zoroastrianism below. 
One of the tenets of Zoroastrianism

Iran | Yazd | Towers of Silence

My main reason for wandering by Yazd was to visit the two Towers of Silence, located on the southern edge of the city. These towers, known in Persian as Dachmas, were places where Zoroastrians disposed of their dead. I have also visited a Tower of Silence in Uzbekistan. Since I was a Zoroastrian before I transmigrated to this current Vale of Tears this subject is of some interest to me. 

When Zoroastrians died their bodies were taken up into a Tower of Silent and exposed to the elements. Vultures and other carrion-eating birds were allowed to strip all of the flesh off the corpses. The bones were then dried and bleached in the sun. In Uzbekistan the bones were places in ossuaries and preserved, but here in Iran the dried bones were placed in a pit in the middle of the Tower of Silent platform where they were allowed to disintegrate into dust. 
 One of the two Towers of Silence near Yazd (click on photos for enlargments)
 Tower of Silence
  Tower of Silence
 Entrance to the Tower of Silence
Interior of the Tower of Silence with pit in the middle
The pit where dried bones were placed

Friday, April 29, 2011

Uzbekistan | Khorezm | Khiva | Harem of Allah Kuli Khan

While I was mainly interested in Remnants of Khiva Pre-Dating the Mongol Invasion I thought that while I was in town it would be downright churlish not to wander by the Harem of Allah Kuli Khan (r. 1825–42), even though it is a relatively recent structure, dating back to the 1830s. The Harem is part of the so-called Tash Hauli Palace, which many of you are no doubt familiar with from the descriptions given in Frederick Burnaby’s A Ride to Khiva: Travels and Adventures in Central Asia (1876) and The Life and Adventures of Arminius Vambery, Written by Himself (1883) Both Burnaby and Vambery visited the palace after the death of Allah Kuli Khan, however, and of course neither of them gained access to the Harem.

Allah Kuli Khan’s seventeen-year reign as Khan of Khiva began in 1825 with the death of his father Muhammad Rakhim Khan. In 1830 he decided to built a new palace on the eastern side of the city. He envisioned a sprawling complex with 163 rooms and three courtyards and informed his architect Usto Nur Mohammed Tajikhan that he wanted the entire palace completed within three years. When Usto Nur Mohammed Tajikhan opined that such an extensive project could never be completed in three years Allah Kuli Khan had him impaled on a stake and hired as his replacement an architect named Kalender Khivaki. With the help of the renowned tile decorator Abdullah Jin and a work force of over 1000 slaves  Kalender Khivaki was able to complete the Harem section of the palace in two years, but the rest of the complex was not finished until 1838. Allah Kuli Khan lived in the Harem with his four wives in apartments on the left-hand side of the courtyard. His female relatives and Persian serving girls lived in apartments on the right hand side.
The formidable walls of the Tash Hauli Palace
Current entrance to the Harem Courtyard. 
According to local sources this entranceway was cut through the palace walls only after the Harem was no longer used for its original purpose. The original means of egress was by carefully monitored hallways through the rest of the palace. Direct egress between the Harem and the street would have been highly inappropriate.
Apartments on the left hand side of the Courtyard
Ceiling of the roof shown in photo above
Tile decoration on the outside walls of the apartments of the Khan and his wives
Entrance to one of the apartments
Entrance to one of the apartments
Tile decoration on the outside walls of the apartments of the Khan and his wives
Tile decoration on the outside walls of the apartments of the Khan and his wives
Detail of tile decoration on the outside walls of the apartments of the Khan and his wives
Apartments of the Khan’s female relatives and serving girls on the right side of the courtyard
Another view of the apartments of the Khan’s female relatives and serving girls on the right side of the courtyard
Entranceway to one of the apartments on the right side of the courtyard
Entranceway to one of the apartments on the right side of the courtyard. 
Embedded in the walls can be seen green ceramic tiles which local authorities claim are symbols of Zoroastrianism. This would seem to indicate that the beliefs of Zoroaster were to some extent incorporated into Islam.
Zoroastrian Symbols 
Zoroastrian Symbol.
The two triangles are said to represent Body and Mind. They are linked by the bar, which represents the power of speech. Thus Body, Speech, and Mind are united. This is very similar to the Body, Speech, and Mind Triad often cited in Buddhism.