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A Hundred Rubies

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The Spiritual Role of The Pomegranate

13 miles outside of one of the oldest cities on the earth, there is a town called Taft in the suburbs of Yazd, Iran. Yazd is located in the middle of a rough desert. According to various documents, Marco Polo visited Yazd in 1250 C.E. and wrote about it. This city is also consideretd the capital of Zoroastrianism. Yazd is one of the biggest mud brick cities of the world. The city’s historical structure was entered in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007.

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All photographs by Kimia Maleki

When you ride the car from Yazd to its suburbs, the windcatchers of Yazd grow tiny and then you see the desert. And all of the sudden, there are mountains, with the city of Taft located on their foothills. This small city has some of the world’s best pomegranates; since it has more water, the fruit stays fresh longer.

Pomegranate has a spiritual definition in Iranian and Islamic contexts. A while ago, I was talking about the beauty of the pomegranate and how its inside seeds are organized and arranged in a neat order. A non-Iranian person responded that he had never thought of this; the pomegranate simply looked like corn to him. Iranian children learn about pomegranates when they are about to finish the first year of elementary school. There is a very famous poem that they have to memorize, which says:

A hundred rubies, sitting side by side. …
In many groups, in an order and with discipline. …
Each of them is colorful and is shining…
There is a white heart in each one’s breast. …
My God has wrapped the rubies. …
Together, in some soft cloth. …
Both sour and sweet, and also juicy…
Red and beautiful, it’s a pomegranate. …
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Beside its Iranian root, the pomegranate also carries importance in an Islamic context as one of heaven’s fruits. In the Qur’an, pomegranate is mentioned three times as an example of the good things God creates.
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There are some Anaar Juice shops in towns that sell pomegranate juice, strips, concentrate and other types of the fruit, such as black pomegranate and white pomegranate, which are widely used in traditional Persian cuisine.
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December is the last month for this fruit. On December 21, Iranians celebrate Yalda night (the winter solstice celebration), which is the longest night of the year. Pomegranate is one of the basic elements of this celebration.
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The city of Taft was like heaven. Full of Pomegranate gardens. Its silence and its clean and fresh air were one of a kind. Can heaven be more than seeing pomegranate seeds on the earth? Climbing the mountain, picking a pomegranate from the tree by your own hand and peeling it on the mud bricked walls. Putting its seed in your mouth, feeling the taste of heaven…

One Response to A Hundred Rubies

  1. […] A shorter version of this article was featured in Fnews Magazine. […]

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