Some Historical Aspects of Funeral Rites among People of Western Pamir

in Anthropology of the Middle East
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This article describes some aspects of funeral rites among indigenous people of the Badakhshan autonomous region in Tajikistan, for most of whom the religious denomination is Ismailism. The ceremonies focus on ritual purification and seeing off the soul of the deceased person into another world. A set of obligatory rituals and rites are described, including lamp lighting, mourning rules, and memorial foods and celebrations. After analysing a wide range of data, the authors conclude that Western Pamir Ismailites believe that a dead body is inhabited by a corpse demon that brings harm to people. Although the described customs and rituals are generally Muslim and reflect features of the traditional Pamir world view, they are most probably part of the region's pre-Islamic heritage.