RYE (čāvdār), Secale cereale L. (fam. Gramineae). The Persian name is probably of Turkish origin. Schlimmer (1874) has recorded the following vernacular names for rye (p. 505): čowdār (Azerbaijan), divak (Lārijān), kārnāvār (Ḵaraqān), dileh (Nā’in), and bārenj (Čahār Maḥāl). He adds that rye seems to be cultivated only in these five areas. Pārsā has also recorded the following, without indicating the area where they are used. (Parsa, VIII, p. 176): jāwṯak/jowṯak,gandom-dar, siāh-ḵāk, and ṯāk. (For other names and variants see Dehḵodā, Loḡat-nāma, s.vv. čowdār and čāvdār.)

The čāvdār grass, able as it is to grow in cold climate and in poor soil, constitutes the only cereal crop of cold mountainous areas in Persia, thriving even at the altitude of 2,400 m above sea level (2,000 m is the maximum altitude for other agricultural crops). It is cultivated on a rather limited scale on northern and southern slopes of Alborz from Azerbaijan to Khorasan, on the slopes of Alvand from Hamadān to Tuiserkān, and on Zagros slopes from Mt. Sahand and Mt. Sabalān down to Luristan (Ṭabāṭabā’i, I, p. 166).

Čāvdār grows wild, too, usually in wheat and barley fields. Rye grains inadvertently mixed by Persian mountain cultivators with those of wheat or barley soon replace the latter crops because of their high proliferation; but the cultivators are not too displeased with that gradual replacement, because čāvdār price in mountainous areas is not inferior to that of wheat (Ṭabāṭabā’i, p. 167).

In Persia čāvdār is used mainly to make a kind of bread which is consumed locally by villagers. However, since a few years ago rye bread loaves are made and promoted by some non-traditional urban bakeries as ‘diet’ (režimi) or ‘fancy’ (fāntezi) bread.



A. Pārsā, Flore de l’Iran VIII, Tehran, 1960.

J. L. Schlimmer, Terminologie médico-pharmaceutique et anthropologique française-persane., litho. Tehran, 1874; 2nd. ed., Tehran, 1330 Š./1951.

M. Ṭabāṭabā’i Giāhšenāsi-e kārbordi; I: Giāhān-e zerāʿathā-ye bozorg, Tehran, 1365 Š./1986-87.

(Hušang Aʿlam)

Originally Published: July 20, 2002

Last Updated: July 20, 2002