Persian Architectural Glossary
ُُWe invite you to participate in this project to collect and correctly record the lexis of Iranian Architectural language. The history of Iranian architecture dates back to at least 5,000 BCE. Given this long, rich history of architectural practices invented and refined over time by Iranian artists and masons, this glossary of terms is relevant across the world. Architecture the world-over utilizes techniques and practices first innovated by the Persian civilization. Through this project, we can begin to conglomerate these innovations and designations to explore what there is to be learned from them. Further, the depth of intention behind architectural techniques and configurations becomes very clear with the vastness of vocabulary used to designate and define each element so specifically.
Persia is home to “some of the most majestic structures the world has ever seen” – Arthur Upham Pope
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ba:gh | “garden”
Emphasizes the natural green aspect and familial relaxation, usually private and fixed to homes, lawns, trees, ground plants.
ba:ghche | باغچه | “small garden”
cha:hrba:gh | چهارباغ | “four garden”
A private and formal garden space with four quadrants divided by waterways or pathways. Traditionally used for work-related functions and hosting visitors. It attempts to balance the greenery with the structure; the greenery lining the periphery of the pools and paths. Emulating the Garden of Eden, four parts and four rivers representing the world.
cheshme | چشمه | “spring” or “stream”/“fountain”
ema:rat | عمارت
A long structure, often a pavilion (see koushk), defined by its location bordering across the end or edge of the garden. Traditionally, the hoz and waterways lead down the center axis of the garden, ending at the structure.
fava:reh | فواره | “fountain”
Usually within a hoz.
goda:l ba:ghche | گودال باغچه | “sunken garden”
ba:ghe mo’ala:gh | باغ معلق | “hanging garden”
An elevated garden space, often with the intention for the greenery to spill over like a waterfall.
haya:t | حیاط | “yard”
Refers to the overall private outdoor space of a home, usually walled, and often refers to a courtyard. Emphasizes aesthetic over function and includes man-made structures such as pool, arches, gravel/stone paths.
hōz | حوض | “pool/pond”
A garden pool of water (not for swimming), sometimes includes fountains, but emphasizes the reflective aspect as it brings the sky’s reflection into the garden space.
jūb | جوی
Waterways for irrigation and water transport.
koushk/pa:viōn | کوشک/پاویون | “pavilion”
A standalone structure, defined by its placement central in the bagh.
meyda:n | میدان | “square”
Public and formal garden space, like a public square. Usually includes hoz, gravel, lawn, pavilions and shade.
pa:rk | پارک
A casual and public garden space emphasizing plant life, with limited structures other than those that encourage relaxation and socializing (such as seating).
andarounī | اندرونی | “interior/indoors”
faza:ha:ye basteh | فضاهای بسته | “closed spaces”
a:ine-ka:rī | آینه کاری | “mirror-work”
Traditional Persian craft of setting pieces of mirror into designs, frames, ceilings
da:la:n | دالان | “corridor”
A maze of narrow corridors which connects the hashti to the courtyard, protecting privacy of interior spaces.
gooshva:reh | گوشواره | “earrings”
Two rooms flanking the iwan, sometimes characterized by domed roofs.
hama:m | حمام | “bath house” “bath room”
hashtī | هشتی | “eight”
Eight-walled small, interior room, just after the entryway and leading into the main house or courtyard. Can be square or octagonal, sometimes called an “entrance porch.”
hōze kha:neh | حوض خانه | “house hoz”
A room where the indoor, private hoz is located. Often used for washing or preparing for prayer.
ka:shīka:rī | كاشیکاری | “tilework”
ota:ghe ta:bestoon | اتاق تابستان | “summer room”
Partially or totally underground, usually vaulted, rooms facing north away from the sun. A cooler space to spend time and sleep during summer.
ota:ghe Zemestoon | اتاق زمستان | “Winter room”
On the north, facing south toward lower winter sun, keeping the space warmer during the winter. Associated with talar and panjdari.
panjdarī | پنج دری | “five doors”
A five windowed room looking toward the courtyard, usually flanked to the main talar of the house.
peleha | پله ها | “stairs”
qanat | قنات
Underground water channel with vertical access shafts, used for transporting water from aquifers.
ra:hro | راه رو | “corridor”
Hallway or passage.
sarda:b | سرداب | “celler”
sarpooshīdeh | سرپوشیده | “covered”
In architecture, referring to covered porches, terraces, walkways etc.
saqf | سقف | “ceiling”
sehdari | سه دری | “three doors”
shabesta:n | شبستان | “night space”
A large, underground and cool sleeping area, usually consecutive domes across the ceiling.
sha:hneshin | شاه نشین | “seat of the king”
A room located to one side of a courtyard. Often, it is identified by the panjdari and its seasonal orientation for capturing winter sun. (see talar)
sha:rmī | شارمی | “coursive”
A covered walkway extending from the facade of a building.
tabagheh | طبقه | “story/floor/level”
zīrzamīn | زیرزمین | “under-ground”
bīrounī | بیرونی | “exterior/outdoors”
faza:ha:ye ba:z | فضاهای باز | “open spaces”
a:banba:r | آب انبار | “water storage”
Underground water storage.
a:jore khashtī | آجر خشتی | “mudbrick/adobe”
ba:dgīr/malqaf | بادگیر | “wind catcher”
A structure similar to a chimney, which connects via a shaft the basement to above the roof of the house. Wind is caught in the holes at the top and brought below, cooled naturally, and spreads through the home/structure. An ancient form of ventilation and air conditioning.
baha:rkha:b | بهارخواب | “spring sleeping”
An outdoor area usually located on an iwan, terrace, or the roof, that is designated for sleeping outdoors during the spring season.
ba:m | بام | “roof”
borj (borzh) | برج | “tower”
eyva:n/iwa:n | ایوان | “patio”
A patio/terrace space that is set into the main structure. It typically is defined by 3 walls and one open side. The eyvan is an integral part of Persian architecture to this day.
gerehchīnī | گره چینی | “wood knotting”
Intricate woodwork consisting of setting thin pieces of wood together to for designs through the play of negative and positive space. Used for dividing walls, screens, doors, and glass is sometimes set between the wood pieces for windows (see orosi).
gōnbad | گنبد | “dome”
ka:shīye mo’aghalī | کاشی معقلی | Glazed brick tilework.
ma:hta:bī/tera:s | مهتابی/ تراس | “terrace”
Muqarnas | مقرنس | “honey-comb vaults/Stalactite vaults”
A form of ornamented vaulting, geometric and fractal-like collection of decorated corbels. Usually found on the ceilings of iwan or other apse-like spaces.
(shīsheye) orosī | شیشه ارسی
Stained glass, set into wood or metal window frames or gerechini.
sōtoun | ستون | “column”
ta:la:r | تالار | “throne”
Iwan/winter room exterior section
ta:rmī | تارمی | “patio”
Essentially an iwan.
voroudī/sardar | ورودی/ سردر | “entrance”
Entrance, or front door.
yakhcha:l | یخچال | “ice-well”
Natural refrigerated storage, often taking the shape of a honey beehive.