Cemetery of Horns

In the Kopet Dag mountains that separate Turkmenistan from Iran is an isolated village called Nokhur which is famous for its cemetery, and although a hospitable people, the Nokhuris do not allow visitors to enter the hallowed ground.

Although there is a variety of grave markers, (stones and vertical wooden posts) almost all of the markers are adorned with the horns of mountain goats or Urial mountain sheep. The Nokhuris tribe believe that mountain goats are sacred animals that have the ability to fight off evil spirits and ensure the soul a safe passage to Heaven. When someone dies, a relative kills a goat and mounts the horns above the grave.

Source: http://katieaune.com/nokhur-turkmenistan/

The wooden posts are decorated with horizontal and crisscross markings engraved to show the deceased the steps or paths to Heaven.

Source: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/nokhur-cemetery
Source: https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/nokhur-cemetery

Many posts are wrapped in several rows of vibrantly coloured fabric; and as Nokhur is famous for silk weaving and the fabric is valued, this ritual may be a sign of respect.

Houses in the village also seek protection from evil spirits by hanging the skulls from goats or sheep on sticks outside.


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