Karian Fire Temple
Although in different periods of its history the structure of the Sasanid society varied somewhat, it essentially consisted of three social strata: the priests; the noblemen, who included the royal family, aristocracy, and warriors; and the farmers. Each of these classes was granted a special fire, which was preserved in temples in three different parts of Iran.

Karian Fire Temple
Although in different periods of its history the structure of the Sasanid society varied somewhat, it essentially consisted of three social strata: the priests; the noblemen, who included the royal family, aristocracy, and warriors; and the farmers. Each of these classes was granted a special fire, which was preserved in temples in three different parts of Iran.

According to an ancient myth, these fires originally burned continually on the back of a cow, which in the time of Tahmuras the DemonBinder was the only means of removing people from the central country, Airyanam Vaejah, inhabited by the Aryans, to six other climes. During one of the trips, these fires are said to have been extinguished when they fell into the water, but immediately new fires were miraculously ignited on the cow's back. The legendary Jamshid, who succeeded Tahmuras on the throne, built three temples to preserve these sacred flames. The first, Azar Farnbagh, was dedicated to the priests; the second, Azar Goshnasp, to the king and warriors; and the third, Azar Barzinmehr, to the farmers. During the Sasanid period, when every relatively-important settlement had its own fire temple, these three temples continued to maintain their primary status. Moreover, any time a fire was to be kindled on a fire altar, the fire with which to kindle it was taken from one of these three temples.

Although scholarly debates still continue, most authorities agree that the Azar Farnbagh fire temple was located in Karian. Throughout the Sasanid rule, ceremonies of great pomp were held here in the presence of the king. Even after the fall of the Sasanians, the Zoroastrians seem to have continued their practices until about the 10th century, and medieval historians report that at some point the Zoroastrians even succeeded in driving the Muslims out of the region. Their rebellion, however, was soon quelled; many perished, and the rest were forced to flee. The temple was desecrated and left in ruins, but prior to this, people seem to have rescued fire from the temple, kept it burning, and carried it as far as India, where most of them found shelter. Time and weather also had their share in the destruction of I this fire temple, of which nothing of importance survives today. The remains of two other great fire-temples are believed to be in Takht-e Soleiman in Azerbaijan (Azar Goshnasp) and near Nishapur in Khorasan (Azar Barzinmehr).

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