Category Archives: Persian

Focus on architecture: Badgir or Malqaf (windcatchers)



Today’s blog post is taking us to the Middle East again, to Persia, India and the Arab world, and to a special architectural feature of these hot regions of Asia, namely the so-called badgir or windcatcher (wind tower) (Persian: بادگیر bâdgir, from bâd ‘wind’ + gir ‘catcher’, Arabic malqaf  الملاقف )(Arabic: also known as barjeel  بارجيل )


The Badgir can be found in all regions of Asia which were historically influenced by the Persian Empire. It is a windcatcher or windscoop that usually takes the form of a tower or turret and which is installed on roofs, often one for each room. It is usually built in a fixed position on the roof with one downward opening since the locally prevailing winds always blow from the same direction. The badgir tower has small slots or vents which admit the wind and deflect it down a shaft, which often reaches to the ground floor, and at the bottom of which is an opening. Air circulation is guaranteed by the difference in air pressure on the wind side and leeward side of the house. The air flowing into the interior of the building can still be warmer than the air already inside, but a cooling effect is achieved by the enhanced evaporation caused by the constant airflow, which moves humid and stale air. To increase the cooling effect, water vessels are often placed inside the shaft or damp straw mats are hung across the vent.

The badgir‘s effectiveness in cooling has led to its being used as a refrigerating device, e.g. for water reservoirs (Ab anbar) (Farsi: ab anbar آب انبار‎‎  ab = ‘water’, anbar ‘storage facility’).

Badgirs have been in use for at least 500 years, their exact origin being uncertain, but they have already been known in Ancient Egypt.


Author: Guillaume Blanchard, via Wikipedia Commons Maison miniature : Pièce de jeu (?) en ivoire provenant d’une tombe d’Abou Roach (près du Caire) contemporaine du roi Den (Période thinite)

An interesting article on ab anbars:

Is there also a similar architectural device in your culture?? Tell us about it in the comments! 🙂


Vocabulary: some fruits in Persian and Tajiki

Today’s blog post will take us to Central Asia, namely to Iran and Tajikistan. Both Persian (or Farsi) and Tajiki are closely related, and can be considered dialects of the same language. Persian is written with the Arabic script from right to left, while Tajiki uses the Cyrillic alphabet and is written from left to right.

Here is the vocabulary for some fruits in both Persian and Tajiki:

farsi fruits


Focus on culture: Zereshk or barberries (Iran)

Author: Conifer via WIkipedia Commons Dried barberries Berberis vulgaris

Author: Conifer via WIkipedia Commons
Dried barberries Berberis vulgaris

Today’s blog post is taking us to the Near East, and here in particular to Iran, and focuses on a particularity of the cuisine there, namely the berries called zereshk (زرشک) or barberries, as they are known in English.

Zereshk are the dried fruit of the Berberis shrub (Berberis integerrima ‘Bidaneh’), which is widely cultivated in Iran and can reach a height of up to 4 m. The plant is mildly poisonous except for its berries and seeds. The berries are very sour and have a tart flavor, and taste a bit like cranberries. They are rich in vitamin C and are used both for cooking and jam-making. A traditional dish in Iran is زرشک پلو  (zereshk polow) or barberry rice, a dish of rice (pilaf) with spices, e.g. saffron, and zereshk-berries mixed into it. Other zereshk products include juice and zereshk fruit rolls.

Author: Arnstein Rønning via Wikipedia Commons

Author: Arnstein Rønning via Wikipedia Commons

Iran is the largest producer of zereshk, and zereshk and saffron are often produced on the same land and the harvest is at the same time. A garden of zereshk-shrubs is called zereshkestanزرشکستان) . The South Khorasan province in Iran is the main area of zereshk, and also of saffron, production in the world, especially the area around Birjand and Qaen.


Even though the barberry shrub is native to Central and Southern Europe, barberries are no longer widely known or used in Europe since the Berberis vulgaris (European barberry) is an alternate host species of the wheat rust fungus (Puccinia graminis), a grass-infecting rust fungus that is a serious fungal disease of wheat and related grains. For this reason, cultivation of barberries is prohibited in many places, e.g. in parts of Canada and the Unites States.