Arabic: مشربية or شناشيل

/n./ : term given to a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second story of a building or higher, often lined with stained glass.

(1) is derived from the triliteral root Š-R-B, which generally denotes drinking or absorbing. There are two theories for its name, the most common one is that the name was originally for a small wooden shelf were drinking pots were stored, hence the name. The shelf was enclosed by wood and located at the window in order to keep the water cool. Later on, this shelf evolved until it became part of the room with a full enclosure and retained the name despite the radical change in use.

(2) is that the name was originally mashrafiya, derived from the verb Ashrafa, to overlook or to observe. During the centuries the name slowly changed due to changing accents and influence of non-Arabs speaking Arabic.

Mashrabiyya is often used architecturally to divide public from private, sacred from profane. The outside can’t see in but the inside can see out. Because of this it often surrounds porches, windows, and pop-out spaced of homes or it cordons off women’s spaces within spaces. I wanted to use this for my blog name for two reasons: I think there is a lot of permeable boundaries between the genders worldwide as well as barriers between East and West. It’s important to recognize these, explore them critically and offer spaces to educate and elucidate change.

One response to “mashrabiyya

  1. ewsil mawdebe


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