Friday, February 20, 2009

Not The Usual Five Pillars Of Islam

The history lesson is lifted in its entirety from this post by Shiva of Infidel Bloggers Alliance:

The Skull Tower (Serbian: Ћеле Кула, or Ćele Kula) is a monument to 19th century Serbian rebels. It is situated in Niš, on Zoran Đinđić Boulevard, on the old Constantinople road leading to Sofia.

On May 31, 1809 on Čegar Hill a few kilometers northeast of Niš, Serbian insurrectionists suffered their greatest defeat in the First Serbian Uprising against the Ottoman Empire (1804-1813). The insurrectionists' advance towards Niš was stopped here and, when the far stronger Turkish forces attacked, the battle was ended by the Serbian commander Stevan Sinđelić, who sacrificially fired at his gunpowder depot in order to avoid surrendering to the Turks, killing himself, the rest of his men, and the advancing Turks.

After the retreat of the Serbian rebel army, the Turkish commander of Niš, Hurshid Pasha, ordered that the heads of the killed Serbians were to be mounted on a tower to serve as a warning to any other would-be revolutionaries. In all, 952 skulls were included, with the skull of Sindjelić placed at the top. The scalps from the skulls were stuffed with cotton and sent to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) as proof for Sultan Mahmud II.


While looking for information about Ćele Kula or The Skull Tower I came across this interesting snippets from some very old books, which I doubt very few people know about.

These erections are known by the Persians as Kellarh i Minar corresponding exactly to the Arabic name of Burj er Roos, a tower built entirely of skulls.

Pillars of Heads

These snippets say it all

F How horrid these pillars must look with the grim heads all round them U.O. Things much more horrid are to be seen in Persia It has been from very ancient times a practice in that country and on its borders to make pillars and pyramids of human heads the heads of enemies slain in battle Besides old pillars of this description there are some which have been erected within these few years Near one of the gates of Bagdad H That is in Turkey U.O. Yes on each side of the road there are two low round pillars inlaid with the heads of two hundred Arab robbers who had been killed in an engagement or taken prisoners and afterwards killed by the troops of the governor I have seen still worse than this On a plain near Mount Sevelund in the northernmost province of Persia there is a small hill on which no less than five
camp So these heads were pickled and sent to him and he had these pillars built to receive them considering them as so many monuments of his glory H What monuments U.O. Aye indeed It is impossible to imagine a more horrid spectacle than that which these barbarous trophies present All war however is full of such horrors if we could but see them The Persians make a parade of those revolting things which we draw a veil over
Extracted from
Uncle Oliver's travels, Persia [by J. Kitto]. By John Kitto, Oliver:

Detail from Pillars of Heads

They put a whole new meaning to the Five Pillars of Islam
under the eyes of Europeans A Russian officer taken at the commencement of the war had turned Musselman and obtained the appellation of Abdoollah Khan Many attempts had been made to induce some of those we saw to do the same but they had not been successful We breakfasted with Secunder Khan the governor of the city and province of Ardebeelsians which had been sent to the Royal camp they had been all pickled and were placed round the pillars in rows A more disgusting sight can hardly be imagined into the mouth of one of the heads a pipe had been insultingly stuck The price of Russian heads at this time was five tomauns The custom of making a pyramid of the heads of e
Extracted from
Travels from India to England by James Edward Alexander:


jwjjJl J Burj er Roos which as its name implies is a tower entirely constructed of human skulls reposing in regular rows on in "tervening layers of the bones of the appertaining bodies This curious tower stands close to the sea at a little distance from the Fort or Burj es Sook and is at present twenty feet in height and at its base ten feet in diameter but tapering to its summit Witli these data knowing what space is occupied by a skull a calculation might easily be made of the number of men which were required to build it though there appears no doubt that it was formerly as the natives assert much wider and higher No tradition is preserved of its origin except that the skulls are those of Christians I think it probable that they are the remnants of the Spanish soldiers who under the command of the Duke of Alva having landed at Jerbeh during high water were attacked and defeated by the Moors and obliged to fall back upon their boats
them but whilst floundering in the mud and weeds were shot or speared by their exasperated and more lightly accoutred enemies who it is probable erected with the dead bodies this tower in commemoration of their victory and deliverance from foreign invasion To preserve it it is occasionally covered with a coat of mortar but when I saw it a great part of this had fallen down and exposed to view the ghastly grinning skulls This tower I believe is quite unique of its kind though certainly the Persian monarchs were wont according to that entertaining writer and correct delineator of eastern scenery and customs Mr Morier to erect after a grande battue similar monuments but the component materials were not the same as these for the heads of the animals killed in the chase and not those of men were used These erections are called

Extracted from
Excursions in the Mediterranean Algiers and Tunis By Grenville Temple:

The above article does not say much about the tower

But here is an account of what really happened

The New York Times February 6 1881

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posted by Always On Watch @ 2/20/2009 03:00:00 PM