Bodbezan | Persian Handheld Fan
Some like it hot. I definitely and resolutely do not. People sometimes are surprised that I don’t like the heat. “But aren’t you from Iran? Didn’t you grow up in the desert? Isn’t it really hot there?” And the answers are yes, no, and it depends. That is, I do hail from a pishi cat-shaped controversial (to put it mildly) country with a heritage as rich as a decadent dessert; and indeed there are deserts in Iran, same as there are four deserts here in the U.S., but people (except for some nomadic tribes) do not live in the desert proper, and yours truly, moi that is, I was tenderly reared in Tehran, the capital of Iran, which is situated at the foot of the snow-capped peeks of mount Damavand. There were 4 distinct seasons: lots of snow in winter, very pretty seasons of spring and autumn, and warm summers with a fair number of hot days — but it was dry hot air which is an entirely different ballgame than humid air.
Humidity: it kills. It limpens the gait and frizzes the hair and deadens the spirit and turns an otherwise breezy joyful walk into a soggy drenched regrettable affair.
It’s summertime in New York and it’s hot! Times like this, I wonder how people managed without air conditioning. Thing is, while air conditioning is gaining a foothold as a basic human right, right up there with the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness, it is still a relatively modern amenity (think post 1950s) and certainly a luxury not uniformly available to humanity across the globe, and before there were these heavenly machines that condition the air (oh, the beautiful miracle of it!) people of yore (i.e our grandparents) had to be crafty and inventive to keep cool.
Which brings me to get around talking to you about this post’s featured “gadget” — a Persian hand-held fan — that is called bodbezan. I’m a bit stumped as how to translate it. Bod means wind and bezan can mean either “that beats,” “that hits,” “that plays,” and as an imperative verb can mean: “beat it,””hit it,” “play it.” But I’m not sure how to put these together and translate it into an English name … and the ideas that I have make my inner Beavis and Butthead laugh their crude heads off. Wind maker? Make wind? Beats wind? Wind beater? Please make up a dignified translation in your head.
When I was growing up, everybody had air conditioning but people still kept a few bodbezans tucked in some closet or corner of their homes, I guess to fan oneself indolently when the mood struck or if the electricity went out. But where bodbezans really came in handy (ha! a pun!) was when grilling outdoors: to fan over the skewered kabob and get those charcoal embers going. I guess it would not be entirely implausible to advance the thesis that bodbezan is a valued if not indispensable accoutrement of an authentic Persian BBQ.
As a hand-held fan, bodbezan is nowhere as elegant as its beautiful Spanish, Chinese or Victorian counterparts. For sure I can’t picture Josephine Bonapart holding a bodbezan seductively while making smoldering glances at her next prospective lover nor can I conjure Scarlett O’Hara fanning herself with a bodbezan and saucily uttering “I do declare!” BUT, it gets the job done! And it’s kind of cute. It has charm.
And that’s really all I have to say about bodbezan except for one other thing, a small thing really. Namely, that in compliance with the FTC rules I have to disclose that this post is sponsored by Agha ‘ye Bodbodi; a manufacturer and importer of authentic Persian bodbezans.
Ok, Ok, I was just kidding about getting paid to write this post. The fact is, I am paying Mr. Bodbodi for the use of his good name and image. Money well spent.
And there you have it. The end of a long-winded post! Sponsored by my heat stroke.
Now I’ll have to go and fan myself.