Tower of Silence

Attached are some articles from the Times of London from 1905 — conversation between the George Birdwood, a British official who was well-known amongst the Bombay Parsis (and a good friend of Dadabhai Naoroji), and the Parsi scholar and writer R.P. Karkaria.  The term seems to either have had its origin with an Irish who worked in the Bombay government or, possibly, a “Mrs. Postans” who wrote a travelogue about her times in western India in 1838 (an interesting read — in the book she talks about a very bright young boy in school, the same Dadabhai Naoroji!).

Jivanji Modi (The Religious Ceremonies and Customs of the Parsees) suggests that the phrase “Towers of Silence” derives in part from the use of the word “khamosh” (silent) in association with the dead (p. 67, footnote).

Best regards,


Dinyar Patel
Ph.D. Candidate, Modern South Asia
Department of History
Harvard University
+1 (650) 796-2486

1905-08-08 – Birdwood, George – The Phrase Towers of Silence

1905-09-30 – Karkaria, R.P. – The Phrase Towers of Silence

1905-10-17 – Birdwood, George – The Phrase Towers of Silence

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