National Geographic : 1905 Dec
VOL. XVI, No. 12 WASHINGTON DECEMBER, 1905 S ATAIIVL MA AHNJb THE PARSEES AND THE TOWERS OF SILENCE AT BOMBAY, INDIA BY WILLIAM THOMAS FEE, U. S. CONSUL GENERAL, BOMBAY The following story of the Parseepeople and the description of the Towers of Silence at Bombay were written at the United States Consulate largely during hours in the night-time, at seasons when the excessive heat of India prevented Dame Naturefrom performing her part of the " sweet restorer." It is not claimed that anything new has been told, though it is hoped that some of the old may have been stated in a new light. It is mainly descriptive and written solely for the pleasure andprofit of my fellow-countrymen, who of late years have found much of interest in the traditions and customs of the people of India. I am under great obligations to many Parseesfor considerabledata and help given me, but especially to my friend, the late Dossabhai Framjee Karaka, the historian. The drawing and photographicfeature is made use of to illustrate the development and individual attainments of members of this remarkable race. WM. THOS. FEE. T HOUGH comparatively small in point of numbers, the Parsees occupy one of the foremost places among Indian nationalities. Their social position, peculiar customs, manners, and foreign designation are impressively striking to a stranger on his first visit to Bombay. Their story is a romantic tale of a people whose ancestry appeared at the very dawn of history, and who occupied Persia when Abraham was a nomadic wanderer, tend ing his flocks on the sandy plains beyond the Euphrates. They claim that their ancestral race was the foremost Asiatic nation of their time, whose grandeur, magnificence, and glory were unsur passed; that their kings were the most powerful and wisest of monarchs, whose armies were renowned for courage and military prowess ; that they were valor ous and energetic, bringing up their youth to "ride, draw the bow, and speak the truth;" that their heroes were as humane as they were courageous; that their women were as brave as they were fair, and as celebrated for the freedom allowed them as for their modesty.