Towers of Silence

[Image: A Zoroastrian "tower of silence," on top of which corpses would be left, arranged in rings, exposed to sun, weather, and vultures].

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

all buildings should have swarming vultures. corpses are an extra bonus, but vultures really do the trick.

March 06, 2007 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't it much nicer to return the dead to all the elements, as opposed to clogging up ground and spoiling the water?
It seems to me that Zoroastrians repect our planet more than other religions.

March 07, 2007 8:11 AM  
Blogger CoralPoetry said...


All buildings should be cylindrical in shape and made with clay and hay and painted russet red. Everybody gets a view from a balcony, which sits atop the dwelling below. There’s an edifice in Brazil like this.


March 07, 2007 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This type of corpse disposal is known as 'excarnation'.

March 07, 2007 10:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


This item of curiosity sparks more questions. Why the Tower of Silence? Do you know the context, historical research, and anthropology of such a thing?

Also - you've been linked on my site as something to know about.

Keep up the good work!

March 07, 2007 1:12 PM  
Blogger Derikic said...

Leaving the bodies for the vultures is still practised in parts of the Himalayas by Buddhist monks. I don't think they need a tower. Perhaps the tower allows the sound of birds ripping the flesh to be reduce. Hence the name "Tower of Silence"? :-)
Love the blog...

March 07, 2007 1:48 PM  
Blogger Leah said...

I think that's pretty sick leaving the bodies of beloved family and friends exposed so that it can be disrespected by vultures who aim to treat it just as a piece of flesh. Human bodies are not sources of food but holy temples of the soul.

March 07, 2007 2:24 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Well, they could stick their dead loved ones in a box, and let worms eat the corpses.

That'd be nice.

March 07, 2007 2:30 PM  
Blogger David said...

I think I saw plans for one of these on the Lowe’s website.


March 07, 2007 2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of these figures somewhat prominently in Pynchon's new book, although it is located, improbably, in the American Southwest.

March 07, 2007 5:02 PM  
Blogger jessica said...

Sort of creepy if you ask me. Although it does satisfy a certain hunger for dark humour if you put a little spin on it. Can you imagine that being an viable disposal option at the funeral home? Or even better, telling your family that you want to be 'vulched and mulched' when your time is up? Just think of the advertisement videos! Only pure bread vulchers for you! Gentle knawing guaranteed!

March 08, 2007 1:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Bombay-based writer, so I know a bit about Parsees (or Zoroastrians) since they played a huge role here in history. I tried weaving a very strange tale around the Towers Of Silence in one of my pulp-fiction comics called Special Officer Savant.

You can read the episode here.

March 08, 2007 2:58 AM  
Blogger Charlotte said...

A friend of mine lived near the towers of silence in Bombay and watching the vultures circle was fascinating. It's a nice place to live because it's a quieter area and they're in the middle of a huge park. One interesting problem that has occasioned a lot of debate in the Parsi community in past years, however, has been the disappearance of the vultures. For years no one knew why Indian vultures were dying. It turns out they are affected by a drug given to livestock (mostly cows) that they ingest when they eat the bodies. Some people in the Parsi community even imported vultures from other parts of the world to try to revitalize the vultures in India. And there was a lot of discussion about how to dispose of the dead if all the vultures disappeared. It looks like things are looking up:

I think it's so cool that this practice still operates and is debated about smack in the middle of one of the largest cities in the world. Thanks for the picture, Geoff.

March 08, 2007 1:10 PM  
Blogger cemenTIMental said...

corpses are an extra bonus, but vultures really do the trick.No smoke without fire...

March 13, 2007 5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why are there towers for the dead only so that we can desecrate them? It seems as though it is some sort of sacrifice the way they place the dead on the top of a tower facing the heavens.

April 29, 2007 8:38 PM  
Blogger Luke Jones said...

The Radio 4 programme 'In Our Time' did a piece on Zoroastrianism.

The towers of silence are by no means the only wonderfully strange Zoroastrian typology; the fire temple, in which a 'pure' fire, fed with sandal-wood, only by priests, shielded from the corruption of the world, is also a remarkable thing.

Programme available here:

May 30, 2007 7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't want to be buried and moulder away in isolation underground in some real estate euphemism, or be burned, which is a waste, and repulsive. I want my molecules to start traveling straight away. To the vultures would be great- or the hyenas, or the piranhas- whatever and whoever wants me for dinner is more than welcome. The sooner the better, while I'm fresh.

January 05, 2008 6:16 AM  

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