Cypress of Kashmar

The Cypress of Kashmar is a mythical cypress tree of legendary beauty and gargantuan dimensions, celebrated in the Iranian epic Shahnameh and other sources. Although the story of its genesis seems of pure mythical origin, the fact of its existence and the incidence of the felling is historically proven.

In the Shahnameh it is said to have sprung from a branch brought by Zoroaster from Paradise and to have stood in today's Razavi Khorasan Province in northeastern Iran and to have been planted by Zoroaster in honor of the conversion of King Vishtaspa to Zoroastrianism. According to the Iranian physicist and historian Zakariya Qazvini, King Vishtaspa had been a patron of Zoroaster who planted the tree himself. In his cosmology, he further describes how the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 247 AH (861 AD) caused the mighty cypress to be felled, and then transported it across Iran, to be used for beams in his new palace at Samarra. Before, he wanted the tree to be reconstructed before his eyes. This was done in spite of protests by the Iranians, who offered a very high sum of money to save the tree. Mutawakkil never saw the cypress, because he was murdered by a Turkish soldier (possibly in the employ of his son) on the night when it arrived on the banks of the Tigris.

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