A Hundred Rubies: The Spiritual Role of The Pomegranate
Thirteen miles outside of one of the oldest city on the earth, there is a city called Taft in the province of Yazd, Iran. Yazd is located in the middle of the rough dessert and it is known for the enticing pomegranate. According to various documents Marco Polo visited Yazd in 1250 A.C. and wrote about the Iranian city.
This city is also considered as the Zoroastrians capital and it is one of the biggest mud brick cities in the world. The Historical Structure of Yazd was submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2007.
Almost everything in the old city is made from sun-dried mud bricks. When you ride in the car from Yazd to its suburbs, the windcatchers of Yazd grow tiny and then you see the glowing desert.
All of the sudden, there are enchanting 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.
The 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, as 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 sweat, and also juicy… Red and beautiful, it's a pomegranate…”
Beside its Iranian root, the pomegranate also has an Islamic context in terms of being one of heaven’s fruit. In the holy book of Islam, the Qur’an, pomegranate is mentioned three times as examples of good things God creates.
There are also various usage of this fruit. There are some Anaar Juice shops in towns which sells pomegranate juice, strips, concentrate and other kind of pomegranate, such as black pomegranate and the white one; either for direct consumption or for using it as part of the Persian cuisine cooking.
Last autumn, back to Taft, I traveled to Yazd and had the opportunity to drive to one of its nearby cities. That city was like heaven, as it was full of pomegranate gardens and its silence was truly one of a kind. My lungs were quickly filled with its clean and fresh air.
Can heaven be more than seeing pomegranate seeds on the earth? Can it be more of a paradise than climbing a mountain, picking the ripe fruit from the tree with your own hand, and peeling it on the mud bricked walls?
A shorter version of this article was featured in Fnews Magazine.