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  • James Tam 谭炳昌

Impressions from Iran (3) — Mosques and Morgues 伊朗印象(3)- 上帝与波斯

Updated: Oct 24, 2022

Tower of Silence 天葬场的寂静塔

Visitor Contemplating a 1500-year-old Fire behind glass in Zoroastrian Temple in Yadz 在 Yadz 拜火庙的火盘,供人隔着玻璃观赏参拜。 盘内的火已经维持了1500年以上

Religion and the Middle East are inseparable. Iran is no exception, though the average Iranians are not nearly as devout as they appear to outsiders. Started out as monotheistic Parsees (Zoroastrians) in the 6th Century, ancient Persians worshipped a God named Ahura Mazda (unrelated to the Japanese car) with an unremitting fire maintained by a keeper. A few centuries later, it was replaced by Islam, brought in by Arabic conquerors. It has since dominated the spiritual side of Iran, especially after the Islamic Revolution 35 years ago. Zoroastrian has survived as a minor religion, and some fire temples are still in use.

宗教在中东有历史性的中心地位,伊朗当然不例外。不过对一般的伊朗人来说,宗教无疑是历史文化和生活的一部分,但信仰并不狂热。波斯人在六世纪创立了拜火教,教义极为简单合理,不外正念,正言,正行。拜火教中文译名有些误导。教徒拜的不是火,而是与日本汽车同名的真神“万事达” 。崇拜祂的工具是薪火不断的“火盘”。伊斯兰教由阿拉伯侵略者大概一千年前带入波斯,自此成为主流,但仍然有部分人信奉拜火教。

The Tower of Silence in Yadz was my absolute favourite. I couldn't help but contemplate death at the dusty foot of the sky burial site for Parsees. It was taken out of use only a few decades ago, citing environmental concerns. Unlike Tibetan sky burial, the mortal remains of Zoroastrians were cleaned and deboned, no doubt preferred by toothless vultures. 位于Yadz 郊区的“寂静塔”是拜火教的天葬场,几十年前才由于卫生考虑而停用。高高的两堆黄土之下苍凉寂静,热风扑面,是个冥想的好地方。有待天葬的尸体会先经清洁。去骨处理后,骨头堆放在山顶的露天骨池。尸肉则由兀鹫啄食。对兀鹫来说,这里的服务可能比西藏的更加周到。

Tower of Silence 天葬场

Ruin of Fire Temple in Isfahan 在 Isfahan 的拜火庙遗迹

Other monotheistic religions, such as Christianity, are officially allowed. Buddhism is fundamentally atheistic, therefore inadmissible. When I speculated that the absence of an immutable God has afforded China more flexibility in mundane reforms, my Iranian interlocutor was intrigued, but slightly worried about the long-term prospects of my soul.


Minarets at Isfahan Square 在 Isfahan 的宣礼塔

Mosque in Tehran 在德黑兰的清真寺

Minarets in Kashan 在 Kashan 的宣礼塔


Inside Agha Bosog Mosque in Kashan 在Kashan Agha Bosog 清真寺的一角

Corner of Fin Garden, nothing to do with mosques and morgues, actually 波斯 Fin 花园一角,与本节无关,属离题之作

A self-torturing gizmo used by the devout during some passionate festival, when they compete for the Iranian Darwinian Award 虔诚教徒在受难节日用作自残之刑具

Mosque 清真寺

Armenian Christian Church in Isfahan 在 Isfahan 的亚美尼亚基督教堂

Thanks for reading! The piece of mud against my forehead is from Mecca. Big noses would use a double or triple decker, a rather common sight in Iranian mosques. My posture, more yogic than Islamic, might have reduced effectiveness of my prayer. 谢谢赐教! 我额头顶着的泥巴是圣地麦加的泥土造的。 不少信徒鼻子特大,为怕撞地流鼻血,会用上两甚至三块。我的膜拜姿势不标准:屁股太高,背不够圆,祈祷功效可能会被打折。

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