An angular piece of fabric topped with a tight knob; seems simple and silent out but a world of stories inside it.
Boghche which is originally a Turkish word meaning package wrapped or tied up for carrying things is a square-shaped piece of patterned clothing which was used to wrap the stuff in Iran not too far in the past. This handbag meant much more than just a piece of clothing as its fabric, design, coloعr and quality could tell a lot about the owner’s wealth, social class and artistry skills.
Whether for carrying the lunch pots or bathing stuff or being as an inevitable part of a ceremony like a bride’s trousseau or funeral of a deceased person, boghche was widely used in Iranian daily life.
No event was as important as a wedding in a girl’s life in traditional Iranian culture and its celebration included several traditions. One of the final stages of the Persian wedding ceremony was “Jahaz Boroun”, which literally means carrying the bride’s trousseau to her new house and was carried out a few days before the wedding day. In the past and before the presence of the modern packaging, almost every piece of the trousseau was wrapped in Boghchehs, which were made of different materials depending on the bride’s family financial status, for example, wealthier families packed their daughter’s trousseau in silk Boghchehs which were finely embroidered with golden or silver threads. Among various fabrics and designs, Termeh, a Yazdi handwoven cloth, was one the most popular fabrics for packing the bride’s trousseau in central regions of.
Although the bride boghche was given by her mother mostly, in some parts of country mother in law used to prepare a boghche including some fine piece of clothing sewn by herself to gift to her bride. The contents of this special boghche were not to be used, instead, it was kept as a treasure with the bride.
The excursion to Hammam or Iranian traditional public baths was considered an important outing for Persian women in pre-modern and conservative Iran. The Hammam journey required special preparations and was never complete without a “Boghche”.
In the past the day of bathing was usually Friday as the seventh and last day of the week when men and women, old and young in the absence of public parks or cinema complexes were gathered in the only bath of the village or city for cleaning and recreation having a boghche in armpit heading containing bathing stuff such as clothes, soaps, towels and etc.
Not so long ago, before the emergence of plastic bags at the beginning of 20th century, Iranian wives used to wrap their husband’s lunch pots in a reusable fabric Boghche to keep it warm and make it easier to carry, the food Boghche was usually made of cotton and did not have any special design. These kinds of Boghche were also used for other food carrying purposes like buying bread.
Shepherds were and still are the loyal users of food boghche in Iran and their boghche is the most authentic one holds bread and dairy.
Almost, all over the world among different cultures, grandparents have the beautiful habit of keeping valuable things with which they have made memories. Iranian grandparents practice the same custom very well. In the past, a Persian grandmother’s Boghche was the best place to keep all those mementoes till the right moment arrives; therefore it always aroused children’s curiosity to want to know what is inside the Boghche waiting for them. Sometimes it contained pieces of valuable jewellery or fabrics to be bestowed on an important event such as a grandchild wedding and sometimes there were less valuable things but still appealing to children like sweets and cookies in the Boghche. Expensive or not, the Grandma’s Boghche has always been a sweet mystery among Persian kids and adults.
Along with the various application of Boghche in an Iranian household, it also found its way to the Persian cooking style. There is a popular Persian dish called “Boghcheh Bademjan” which means eggplant bundle. It is made with sliced fried eggplants wrapping like a Boghche around a spicy mixture of minced meat, vegetables and onions put in a rich tomato sauce.
Boghche used to be an essential item in every Persian household followed the taste and style of the people to feel special, no matter what; the boghche would remain to grow with him/her to be a personal treasure. The invention of plastic bags deeply affected its presence and it had almost been forgotten until recent years that a devoted group of ecotourism activists work on finding and reviving the grandmothers' Boghchehs and try to save the wealth inside them from neglect and silent death as a part of Memory of the World in Iran.
"Boghchehs" work miracles". When you open a boghche, it is not only about what it has inside, but the synergy of stories of each item that creates harmony in the spectator.
TasteIran has made a sample of Iranian boghche as a welcome pack to give to its precious customers travel to Iran through the lens of experiences. The characteristic boghche of TasteIran is wrapped up around things which are to be a symbol of the country you are visiting.
By Nazanin Moayed