Yazd > Taft > Yazd
Yazd was a major stop on the international caravan routes to Central Asia and India. Its architecture is perhaps the most traditionally Persian that we saw. The ventilation systems called wind towers originated in Yazd.
This was a day devoted to the pre-Islamic religion of Persia, Zoroastrianism. First we visited a Tower of Silence, a depository for the remains of the dead. Formerly Zoroastrians washed the corpses, wrapped them in a white shroud that left their faces exposed, placed them so as to face the sky, and let scavenger birds pick the skeletons clean. The cleaned bones were gathered and placed in an ossuary. Thus they avoided contaminating the four elements — earth, air, fire, and water — that were sacred to them. The Shah’s government forbade the use of the Towers of Silence. Now the bodies of the Zoroastrian dead are encased in concrete. According to Amir there are about twenty thousand Zoroastrians remaining in Iran with larger populations in India and elsewhere.
We visited a rather touristy Zoroastrian fire temple in Yazd. The fire is supposed to have been burning since 470 AD.
Then we visited the small Zoroastrian village of Taft, and the modest temple that is an active religious site for the village. The village is set in handsome groves of pomegranate trees and at many intersections in the town there are niches where a fire with incense is kept burning.
Returning to Yazd, we walked through the Zoroastrian quarter of town. It is still an active urban community. The whole area looked as though it was quietly hiding behind its brick walls.