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Towers of Silence

Towers in Persia and India, some sixty feet in height, on the top of which Parsees place the dead to be eaten by vultures. The bones are picked clean in the course of a day, and are then thrown into a receptacle and covered with charcoal.

“A procession is then formed, the friends of the dead following the priests to the Towers of Silence on Malabar Hill.” —Col. Floyd-Jones.

The Parsees will not burn or bury their dead, because they consider a dead body impure, and they will not suffer themselves to defile any of the elements. They carry their dead on a bier to the Tower of Silence. At the entrance they look their last on the dead, and the corpse-bearers carry the dead body within the precincts and lay it down to be devoured by vultures which crowd the tower. (Nineteenth Century, Oct., 1893, p. 611.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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