Iraq- Mashrabiya Is a Unique Architectural Element in Basra


Location: Basra – Iraq

Language: Arabic

Voice:  natural

Duration: 00:05:57

Source: A24

Restrictions: A24 Clients

Dateline: 12-02-2022


       Mashrabiya “Shanasheel” in is a unique architectural element used in ancient buildings and palaces in Basra.  Due to the spread of Mashrabiya in Basra, the city became known as “the city of Shanasheel”. Mashrabiya is basically a type of bay window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second story of a building or higher, often lined with stained glass. This rich architectural heritage date back to the Ottoman and British eras. Buildings and houses with Mashrabiya mostly belong to influential and affluent people along with merchants and diplomatic figures. For maintaining the durability of Mashrabiya, treated wood is used in its structure to protect it from termites.


-SOUNDBITE (Sadeq Hassoun – historical researcher)

Mashrabiya can be seen in old houses that belong to former generations and public figures. This architectural element doesn’t entirely belong to Iraq, rather, it dates back to the Ottoman and British eras. Some of these houses are so old that they are 150-160 years old.  However, they underwent restorations and renovations. Treated wood is used in building Mashrabiya. Builders resort to olive oil treatment to protect the wood from insects

-SOUNDBITE (Haider Al-Saad – a fine artist)

Houses with Mashrabiya belonged to influential and affluent people along with merchants, diplomats, and some Jewish people. In some official departments, they were part of the design. Mashrabiya “Shanasheel” was associated with Basra city as it marked an exclusive architectural element with distinctive carvings. I read that some Mashrabiya builders came from India. People from Basra learned the mechanism of how to build these “Shanasheel”. For hundreds of years, these Mashrabiya have been decorating Basra. They are unique in their design, and they are eco-friendly. They were all built along the river line. I am now standing above the Al-Ashar River, which is a crucial river in the area as it passes through the city of Basra

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