FARROḴI (فرّخی), township on the southern edge of the Great Desert, in Ḵur-Biābānak Sub-province, Isfahan Province.

Farroḵi is an isolated oasis on the southern fringes of the Dašt-e Kavir (see DESERT) in central Persia.  Situated at lat 33°50.5′ N and long 54°57.0′ E, 2,735 feet above sea level, Farroḵi belongs to the warm climate (garmsir), with average precipitation as low as 4 inches annually. It stands in the middle of the Ḵur-Biābānak Sub-province (šahrestān), twelve miles west of its capital, Ḵur.  As the third largest settlement of the sub-province, Farroḵi’s administrative status was promoted from village (rustā) to city (šahr) in 2009 (Majles-e šurā-ye eslāmi).  The local name of Farroḵi is Farvi.

In spite of its archaic name, Farroḵi’s documented history begins as late as the Qajar period (1779-1925).  It was then one of the eight major villages that constituted the district of Biābānak (Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, IV, p. 2260).  The earliest demographic data comes from the local census of 1301/1884, which recorded 230 households with 939 inhabitants in Farroḵi (Dastān Yaḡmāʾi, p. 31).  The figure had nearly doubled by the 1966 decennial census to 500 households comprising 1,484 inhabitants (Statistical Center of Iran, 1969, p. 23), and it continued to grow to 2,389 souls by 2006 and 2,502 souls by 2011 (idem, 2007, pp. 624 ff.; idem, 2014).  The population growth is a combined result of high birthrate and influx from Farroḵi’s hamlets and farms, namely, Jaʿfarābād, Ḵorramdašt, Ebrāhimābād, Kāẓemābād, Ḥosaynābād, Barātu (or Eramdašt), Ferdows, Ḡafurābād, Mehdiābād, Naṣrābād, ʿAzizābād, and Amirābād (Ḥekmat Yaḡmāʾi, 1991, p. 281; cf. Wezārat-e kešvar, “Farroḵi”).  These toponyms bear witness to the late origins and precarious existence of Farroḵi’s outpost settlements.

Looking at the satellite maps in 2013, one sees Farroḵi spreading over one-half of one square mile on the western end of its farmlands (Figure 1).  The asphalted road from Jandaq to Ḵur cuts Farroḵi into two distinct parts.  On the east of the road rests the old town, with narrow lanes running among mud houses tightly bundled together, with an increasing density towards the oasis’ nucleus at the outlet of the subterranean conduit (kāriz, qanāt) on the eastern edge of the settlement. On the west of the highway, farthest away from the fields, stands an expanding modern quarter, still smaller than the old town but with larger houses patterned into orthogonal street blocks.  These blocks face 18 degrees southwest, while the houses in the oldest quarter face about 50 degrees southwest.  While the latter orientation equals that of the qebla, this must be mere coincidence if one subscribes to Michael E. Bonine’s hypothesis that in Persian villages the orientation of lanes of blocks generally follows the overall slope of the farmland.  Standing conspicuous among the buildings of Farroḵi is the congregational mosque, dated 1256/1840 (Ḥekmat Yaḡmāʾi, 1991, pp. 80).

A monograph on the Biābānak district dated 1884 by the local pundit Ebrāhim Dastān Yaḡmāʾi provides a good deal of valuable information on Farroḵi.  In those days, Farroḵi paid the central government 102 tomans of annual tax and provided 21 conscripts.  The village was stratified into two groups: the sayyeds, mostly proprietors who benefited also from pious endowments spread as far as Garma village, and impecunious, credulous commoners, who worked the land or hauled with the camel, or else were incited by the sayyeds to feuds and sedition (Dastān Yaḡmāʾi, pp. 32, 40).  The villagers would harvest from the village’s palm groves up to 4,000 Tabrizi maunds (12 tons) of dates annually, most of which was consumed locally.  The subsistence farming of barley, wheat, turnips, cotton (jowzaq), madder (runās/ronās), pomegranates, and jujube (senjed), barely satisfied half of the local consumption.  The major cottage industry, which occupied most women and some men, was cotton spinning and linen weaving (palās-bāfi, karbās-bāfi), whose textile product was partly exported to the provincial seat of Semnān.  Men also engaged in camel breeding and transport, as well as coal making from the trees and shrubs of the surrounding hills (Dastān Yaḡmāʾi, pp. 31-32).  In the late 1970s, cereals and cotton were cultivated on some 300 acres of farmlands of Farroḵi and 170 acres of its nearby hamlets (Razmārā, p. 141; Ḥekmat Yaḡmāʾi, 1991, pp. 280-81).

Groundwater has played a key role in life and economy of Farroḵi.  Its subterranean canal (qanāt) draws water from high water tables of the western hills, carries the water six miles downhill, passes under the settlement, and discharges at the fields (keštḵˇān; Dastān Yaḡmāʾi, p. 31).  Although the manmade canal yields semi-saline water (Figure 2), it has been a perennial source since the foundation of Farroḵi.  Another source of water is the seasonal stream (šurāb), which is powerful enough to spin the watermills Hizer and Hamzau, both deserted (Ḥekmat Yaḡmāʾi, 1991, pp. 31, 35). The water is stored in cisterns (āb-anbār; Figure 3) For regulating the precious irrigation water, the villagers developed a meticulous measuring system, considerably different from those of Ḵur and other oases of the district.  In Farroḵi, the water is measured using a local unit known as pangun (Pers. fenjān) that equals the volume of water leaving the underground canal in 7½ minutes.  The water distribution to the shareholding fields has a return period of ten days, counted by an irrigation calendar with specific day names (Table 1; Ḥekmat Yaḡmāʾi, 1991, p. 315; cf. Mehrajān, Table 1).

Ever since Ebrāhim Dastān’s report of the 19th century (see above), the inhabitants have held the reputation of being religiously the most fervent in Biābānak, an attribute that was intensified after the Islamic Revolution of 1978-79.  The township is adorned with disproportionally many little mosques and ḥosayniyas, some controlled by the influential Hayʾat-e motawasselin-e be Qamar-e Bani Hāšem.  Religious ceremonies and observations, especially those of Moḥarram and Ṣafar (see Raʾisi), keep the underemployed townsfolk entertained and satiated with repasts.  It is not surprising that Farroḵi is reported as appreciably less developed than the other places in Biābānak (Āl-e Dāwud, endnotes to Honar Jandaqi’s Divān, p. 435).

Farroḵi has its local dialect, called Farvi or Farvigi, a variety of the West Iranian language spoken in southern Biābānak, also known as the K̠uri language group.  Yet, Farvi and Ḵuri proper, spoken in oases as much as 12 miles apart, show considerable difference with a substantial level of mutual unintelligibility.  When Sayyed ʿAli Moḥammad Bāb invited his former schoolmate (at the Najaf Shiʿi seminary) Mirzā Esmāʿil Honar Yaḡmāʾi to join his newly launched faith, Honar replied in two letters, one written in Ḵuri, another in Farvi, and posed to the self-proclaimed prophet the challenge that, if he had truly received divine revelation, then he must be able to answer each of the two letters in the language in which it was composed (apud Āl-e Dāwud’s introductory essay to Honar Jandaqi’s Divān, pp. ix-x).  The vernacular is believed by the natives to be a remnant of the Zoroastrian background of Farroḵi, and a local tradition attributes its foundation to a certain Myzʾ, the son of the eponymic Farroḵ-e Gabr (Dastān Yaḡmāʾi, p. 31).


Sayyed ʿAli Āl-e Dāwud, Ketāb-šenāsi-e tawṣifi-e Ḵur o Biābānak, Tehran, 2005. 

Michael E. Bonine, “The Morphogenesis of Iranian Cities,” Annals of the Association of American Geographers 69/2, 1979, pp. 208-24. 

Ebrāhim Dastān Yaḡmāʾi (Yaḡmā-ye Ṯāni), Ketābča-ye Jandaq o Biābānak, ed. Sayyed ʿAli Āl-e Dāwud as Joḡrāfiā-ye Jandaq o Biābānak, Tehran, 2006. 

Moḥammad-Ḥasan Khan Eʿtemād-al-Salṭana, Merʾāt al-boldān, ed. ʿAbd-al-Ḥosayn Navāʾi and Mir-Hāšem Moḥaddeṯ, 4 vols., Tehran, 1988-89. 

ʿAbd-al-Karim Ḥekmat Yaḡmāʾi, Jandaq, rustā-i kohan bar karān-e kavir, Tehran, 1974.

Idem, Bar sāḥel-e Kavir-e Namak, Tehran, 1991. 

Idem, “Zendagi-e eqteṣādi o šiva-ye maʿišat-e mardom-e Ḵur-Biābānak dar awāḵer-e ʿaṣr-e Qājāriya,” in Sayyed ʿAli Āl-e Dāwud, ed., Payām-e Bahārestān: Faṣl-nāma-ye motun o taḥqiqāt-e irāni: Viža-nāma-ye māliya o eqteṣād, Tehran, 2013, pp. 225-43.

Mirzā Esmāʿil Honar Jandaqi, Divān-e Honar Jandaqi, ed. Sayyed ʿAli Āl-e Dāwud, Tehran, 1987. 

Charles M. MacGregor, Narrative of A Journey Through the Province of Khorassan and on the North West Frontier of Afghanistan in 1875, 2 vols., London, 1897. 

Oskar von Niedermayer, Under the Scorching Sun: Iran War Experiences of the German Expedition to Persia and Afghanistan, Dachau, 1925; tr. Keykāvus Jahāndāri, as Zir-e āftāb-e suzān-e Irān, Tehran, 1984, pp. 75-76, 96-114. 

Ḥosayn-ʿAli Razmārā, ed., Farhang-e joḡrāfiāʾi-e Irān (ābādihā) X: Ostān-e dahom: Eṣfahān, Tehran, 1953. 

Statistical Center of Iran (Markaz-e āmār-e Irān), Village Gazetteer/ Farhang-e ābādihā-ye kešvar VII. Ostān-e Eṣfahān, Tehran, 1969.  Idem, Sar-šomāri-e ʿomumi-e nofus o maskan, 1385: Ostān-e Eṣfahān, šahrestān-e Nāʾin, Tehran, 2007.

Online sources.

Roxana Khoshravesh, “Photos by,” http://www.panoramio.com/user/5909694?show=all (accessed 28 March 2016).

Majles-e šurā-ye eslāmi: Markaz-e pažuhešhā, “Taṣwib-nāma dar ḵoṣuṣ-e tabdil-e rustā-ye Farroḵi … ba šahr,” dated 21 Āḏar 1388 Š./12 December 2009, http://rc.majlis.ir/fa/law/show/136048 (accessed 20 April 2013).

Moḥammad Raʾisi, “Rustā-ye Farroḵi (Farvi),” Kavirhā o biābānhā-ye Irān, www.irandeserts.com, 31 Farvardin 1392 Š./7 April 2013 (accessed 20 April 2013).

Statistical Center of Iran (Markaz-e āmār-e Irān), Natāyej-e sar-šomāri-e 1390: Dargāh-e melli-e āmār, 2014, at http://www.amar.org.ir/Default.aspx?tabid=1603 (accessed 15 July 2014).

Wezārat-e kešvar, Ostāndāri-e Eṣfahān, Farmāndāri-e Ḵur o Biābānak, at www.khoorbiabanak.gov.ir (accessed 4 April 2013).

(Habib Borjian)

Originally Published: March 28, 2016

Last Updated: March 28, 2016

Cite this entry:

Habib Borjian, “FARROḴI,” Encyclopædia Iranica, online edition, 2016, available at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/farrokhi-town (accessed on 09 March 2016).