DATEPALM (derakòt-e kòorma@, nakòl; Phoenix dactylifera L., fam. Palmaceae), dioecious tree of great economic and cultural importance in Persia and the Middle East. It is indigenous to the geobotanical "Sahara-Sind region," a desert or semidesert belt extending from the Indus valley to North Africa (Gauba, 1951, p. 15; for distribution of the date palm in this region, see Dowson and Aten, p. 2; Dowson, tr., pp. 20-37). It is believed by some authorities to be native to the Persian Gulf area (Erbe) and by others to have been derived from the the wild or date-sugar palm of western India (Hindi kòarju@ra, Phoenix sylvestris Roxb.; Zargar^, IV, p. 525; for a possible linguistic relation between Skt. kharjura and kòorma@ "date" [Mid. Pers. xurma@], see Laufer, Sino-Iranica, p. 391).

The date palm in historical sources.

Date-palm cultivation is attested in ancient texts and representations from Mesopotamia (e.g., Gauba, 1951, p. 15; cf. Hussain, tr., pp. 1-4; Dowson, tr., p. 25). In the Fertile Crescent the goddess Mylitta (Mesopotamia) or Astarte (Phoenicia) was represented by a female date palm. The attributes of the god Mithra may have included the male palm and the pyramidal cypress (q.v.; Lajard, pp. 7-8, 273), as depicted on a marble relief of Roman provenience kept at the Villa Altieri, Rome (Vermaseren, pp. 152-53 no. 334, fig. 91; cf. Cumont, p. 195).

In the Achaemenid period, according to Strabo (15.2.7, 16.1.14), there was a Persian song on the 360 uses of a date palm. On a contemporary seal Darius is depicted on a chariot between two (female) palms and beneath the winged Ahura Mazda@ (q.v.; Plate VII; cf. Survey of Persian Art, pls. 123A, G-H, 124D). Zoroastrians regarded the date palm as the most valuable of all trees except the mythical Go@kirin (Bundahiæn, tr. Anklesaria, p. 157). There is a report of agricultural taxes in the time of K¨osrow I (531-79 C.E.), including 1 dirham for every four "Persian" date palms and 1 dirham for every six palms yielding dates of inferior quality (daqal); isolated palms were exempt from taxation (T®abar^, II, p. 962). In particular, dates from the province of H®^ra in Mesopotamia (arma@v ^ he@rat^k), when stuffed with walnuts (cf. the modern rang^nak, below), were considered a royal delicacy (Xusro@ i Kava@ta@n, par. 52; cf. T¨a¿a@leb^, GÚorar, p. 708; cf. the Pahlavi commentary on Vd. 2.28 in Avesta, tr. Darmesteter, II, p. 27). In the Parthian poem Draxt ^ a@su@r^g (q.v.; ll. 1-27), a debate between a she-goat and a female date palm, the latter enumerates the benefits to humankind from her fruits, leaves, fibers, and so on.

A wealth of ancient lore on the date palm is included in the Keta@b al-fela@háat al-nabatá^ya, allegedly translated from Syriac by Ebn Waháæ^ya in 291/903-04 (VII, pp. 51-271). The Kasda@n^ (Chaldean?) Yanbu@æa@d is cited (VII, pp. 86-98) on similarities between the date palm and humankind: the existence of males, females, and hermaphrodites (kòont¯a@); similarity in the odors of date pollen and semen; the supposed susceptibility of the female palm to falling in love with a nearby male palm; comparable longevity; and erect stature (cf. D^navar^, p. 303 no. 26; Qazv^n^, pp. 177-78). Ma@s^ Su@ra@n^ (?) is cited (Ebn Waháæ^ya, VII, pp. 55 ff.) as source for the claim that date palms were native to an island named H®a@raka@n (the modern K¨a@rg?) near the Persian coast; there were four kinds: two that grew at a distance from the sea, the ancestors of the æahr^z and baren^ varieties of date, the ripe fruits of which were black and yellow respectively, and coastal varieties, the sáarafa@n and táabarzad (see below).

Abu@ H®an^fa D^navar^ (q.v; d. ca. 282/895) explored the rich Arabic terminology for the date palm (nakòl; II, pp. 293-324 no. 1061). Persian geographers from the 10th century onward have mentioned many date-growing localities in Persia (e.g., EsátÂakòr^, pp. 35, 90, 93-95, 127-28, 153-54, 166, 168, 200, 231, 233-34, 237, 274; H®odu@d al-¿a@lam, ed. Sotu@da, pp. 91, 103, 127, 132, 141). In the 12th century Ebn al-Balkò^ (p. 140) reported that in the coastal districts of Kora@n and Èra@hesta@n in Fa@rs date palms were grown in deep pits, in order to make maximum use of the limited winter rain; only the crowns of full-grown trees showed above ground.

Early European travelers also counted dates among the best Persian fruits. Marco Polo (ca. 1272) mentioned the extensive plantations of Yazd, Kerma@n, and Hormoz, remarking that the inhabitants of Hormoz lived "chiefly upon dates and salted fish" and made from dates and other ingredients "a good kind of wine," which caused "an immediate flux" to those unaccustomed to it (pp. 41, 43, 46, 48). Don García de Silva y Figueroa, the Spanish envoy to Shah ¿Abba@s I (996-1038/1588-1629), frequently mentioned date palms in southern Persia, particularly in Mog@/gesta@n, a coastal district near Ja@sk. On the island of Hormoz he noticed that most local houses were made of canes covered with palm fronds; better houses had flat masonry roofs, where on hot nights wooden "beds" were partitioned off with palm wattles. In La@resta@n and Jahrom dates were the staple food and the main article of trade; Figueroa believed those from La@resta@n superior in size, color, and taste even to those of Basára and Iraq, which had from Xenophon's time always passed for the best in Asia. In Jahrom he reported a "dense forest of palms . . . a good league long and half a league wide," divided by mud walls into about a thousand plots, each containing between twenty and seventy trees belonging to a family or individual and "most of which were higher than the highest church tower in Europe." Some palms bore "up to fifty date clusters," weighing 30 pounds each; the inhabitants claimed that some clusters weighed more than 60 pounds. Figueroa believed that the quality of Jahrom dates was owing to the soil and to careful irrigation with well water (pp. 32, 34, 37, 39, 50-51, 77, 352-54). Later in the 17th century Jean Chardin (p. 157) asserted that Persian dates were tastier than those of Arabia and that the best were from Kahu@resta@n in Bandar-e ¿Abba@s province, S^sta@n, Persepolis, and the Persian Gulf littoral, particularly Jahrom. They were exported "dry in bunches, or loose," but mostly "preserved in their own juice . . . in great gourds from 15 to 20 pound weight." He recommended moderation to those unaccustomed to eating dates, for otherwise "they heat the blood," a symptom called garm^ "heat" in popular Persian medicine, even causing skin eruptions and weakening the sight.

Engelbert Kaempfer, a German physician who accompanied the Swedish ambassador to the court of Shah Solayma@n in 1085/1684, discussed all aspects of the "palma dactylifera" (pp. 659-754). He recorded many vernacular terms (probably from Bandar-e ¿Abba@s and the Hormoz area) related to palms and dates, some of them still used. He also distinguished two kinds of palm in southern Persia: cultivated and wild. The latter, called Palma sylvestris persica by Kaempfer and locally nicknamed Abu@ Jahl, was popularly believed to grow from date pits scattered on sterile soil. It must be the indigenous dwarf palm, Nannor(r)hops ritchiana (Griff.) Aitch., with tiny, almost inedible fruit, which grows wild in parts of southern Afghanistan, western Pakistan, and southeastern Persia, reaching a height of 2.5-3 m (Zargar^, IV, p. 528). Among its vernacular names are marez in Afghanistan (T¨a@bet^, 1355 ˆ./1976, p. 480), mazr^ and k^lu@ in Pakistan (Bamber, p. 129), phiæ in Baluchistan (Mayer, p. 138), and da@z (Èra@næahr, N^kæahr; T¨abet^, 1327 ˆ./1948, p. 119), p^æ, po/u@rk (Baæa@kerd), maza@r^, kòu@, and ka@kol-zard "yellow-crowned" in Persia (Parsa, V, pp. 57-59, VIII, p. 125). The fruit may be eaten during famine (see BALUCHISTAN i, p. 606), and its sturdy fronds (2-3 feet long; Bamber, p. 129) are used to make baskets, mats, cordage, hats, and the characteristic Baluchi sandals; in Afghanistan beads are sometimes made from the date pits (Hamada@n^, p. 37; T¨a@bet^, 1355 ˆ./1976, p. 480).

Contemporary production.

As the earlier geographical sources suggest, date palms grow in Persia as far north as the oases along the northern border of the Daæt-e Kav^r (for details, see Dowson, tr., pp. 21, 29-32). Reliable data are available only for the period 1326-59 ˆ./1947-80. In 1347 ˆ./1968 about 2 percent of Persian arable land (1,367 km2) was planted with 20-26 million palms, yielding approximately 325,000 metric tons of dates annually (¿Ena@yat, p. 1; cf. Ru@háa@n^, pp. 273, 278, 283: 20-21 million, yielding 170,000-310,000 metric tons). Annual domestic consumption, concentrated in the southern coastal provinces, was estimated at 90,000-190,000 metric tons (Ru@háa@n^, p. 278). In 1369 ˆ./1990-91, 42,840,453 kg of dates were exported, a total value of Rls. 1,483,785,186 (ca $1,059,847); 39,596,024 kg went to Dubai (Gomrok, 1370 ˆ./1991, p. 574).

Although Persian dates are among the world's best, adverse factors have impeded their production and export. Aside from inherent factors (e.g., the interval of five to ten years or more before female palms bear fruit, the skill required for hand pollinating trees and harvesting the fruit) that do not permit quick profits, environmental, social, and administrative conditions also play a role. There is a shortage of sweet water for irrigation, and in districts irrigated by saline fluvial or marine waters, especially along the Arvandru@d (q.v.; ˆatátÂ-al-¿Arab) and Bahmanæ^r rivers (AÚba@da@n, Kòorramæahr, M^nu@ islet), date plantations gradually die (Kom^s^u@n, II, p. 1650; on similar conditions at M^na@b, cf. ¿Ena@yat, pp. 57, 68). Another problem is inadequate rural roads connecting the plantations, many of them in remote desert areas, with distribution and packing centers (¿Ena@yat, pp. 49, 70).

The prevailing methods of harvesting, sorting, storing, and packing the crop remain primitive and unsanitary (¿Ena@yat, pp. 55, 56). In the date groves pests and diseases often rage unchecked, with resulting spoilage of about 50 percent of the annual crop; to this percentage must be added the approximately 100,000 tons of dates lost annually through fermentation and spoilage owing to improper handling and storage (¿Ena@yat, pp. 50, 66, 76). The low standard of living among most date cultivators and their inability to invest in better irrigation and drainage systems, sanitary storage and handling facilities, and the like force them to sell their expected crops before the harvest (salaf-foru@æ^), at about 20 percent below market prices. These problems are aggravated by lack of coordination among growers, packers, domestic merchants, and exporters through efficient local cooperatives (q.v.) and trade unions (¿Ena@yat, pp. 50, 57, 66, 72, 76; Eda@ra, p. 21). Regulation of standards, prices, sales, and exports is nonexistent or inadequate, with the result that goods vary in quality. In these conditions both growers and dealers, fearful of spoilage, often sell at very low prices to unscrupulous middlemen and traders, both Persian and foreign (cf. Sa@zma@n, pp. 82-84, on the emigration of date-farm laborers from Tangesta@n province to urban employment and the shift of land especially to cultivation of tobacco, which brings a quicker income).

Government and private processing and packing installations seem inadequate, though no current information is available. In 1347 ˆ./1968 there were sixteen small private packing houses in K¨orramæahr (¿Ena@yat, p. 70) and a large state-owned plant equipped with machinery supplied by Hay÷at-e ¿amal^ya@t-e eqtesáa@d^-e AÚmr^ka@ dar Èra@n (the American AID mission in Persia), with an annual processing capacity of 3,000-5,000 tons (Faræ^, 1339 ˆ/1960a, p. 86). Before the war between Persia and Iraq in the 1980s there was also a plant producing 5,000 tons of date syrup (æ^ra-ye kòorma@) and about 2,500 tons of residue for cattle feed annually. Nearly 4.2 tons of syrup were obtained from every 6 tons of dates (Eda@ra, p. 16); it was used in chocolate, biscuits, canned food, and the like.

During the eight years of the war between Persia and Iraq, which involved the most important date-growing areas of both countries, there was severe damage to the plantations of K¨u@zesta@n and Kerma@næa@ha@n (Qasár-e ˆ^r^n and K¨osrav^; Sa@zma@n, p. 12; Eda@ra, pp. 29-38). The destruction of dams and irrigation installations flooded the groves, rotting the roots and contributing to a proliferation of weeds and pests, and spraying was prevented by the war. Some statistics, if reliable, suggest the sad state of date cultivation in K¨u@zesta@n (Eda@ra, p. 1). In the years 1362-63 ˆ./1983-84 and 1363-64 ˆ./1984-85 respective yields were 141,052 and 30,577 metric tons, a drop of more than 78 percent (Eda@ra, p. 11). War damage in K¨u@zesta@n may be further estimated from official statistics of date trees and production for the whole country in 1367 ˆ./1988-89: 12,981,000 palms (of which only 7,844 were fruiting trees), with a yield of 173,940 tons (Markaz-e a@ma@r, p. 54).


Terminology. The long-standing cultivation of dates in Persia has engendered a rich vocabulary of vernacular terms, which have been generally neglected by Persian philologists. There are only two partial lists of classical Persian equivalents or definitions for terms from the vast Arabic vocabulary related to the nakòl or nakò^l and tamr (generic term for dates). The first is a short list in the earliest extant Arabic-Persian dictionary, by Zamakòæar^ (467-538/1075-1144; I, pp. 106-08; see DICTIONARIES i). The second is a longer list compiled by Mayda@n^ (d. 518/1124; pp. 513-18). Modern studies or lists at this writer's disposal include those by Georges Redard for the hamlet of K¨u@r (partly supplemented by Farahvaæ^, pp. 21-22; H®ekmat Yag@ma@÷^, pp. 240-42 and passim), Èraj Afæa@r and M.-R. Moháammad^ for Ba@fq (pp. 193-94), Ahámad Sa@yaba@n^ for the dehesta@n of F^n (in the æahresta@n of Bandar-e ¿Abba@s); Koji Kamioka and Minoru Yamada for La@resta@n (pp. 21-22), Èraj Ru@háa@n^ for Jahrom and adjacent localities (pp. 254-63, 269-72), and Sa@zma@n-e barna@ma wa bu@dja-ye osta@n-e Bu@æehr for the æahresta@n of Tangesta@n (pp. 1-9 and passim). Ahmad Parsa (VIII, pp. 139-41) has included a list of eighty-four names (without a gloss) for date varieties in Makra@n. Isolated dialectal terms also occur in some articles and vernacular glossaries (e.g., Sotu@da).

Vernacular names for the date palm include mo@/og, K¨u@r (cf. Mid. Pers. mu©); mok, Kerma@n; mog@, F^n; mokò/h, Tangesta@n; mokò, tarak, Jahrom; m@ug/g@ (?) Bandar-e ¿Abba@s, J^roft, and so on (Ru@háa@n^, p. 272); Baluchi moàk, Dezak; ma±, Za@bol; ma@±, Ùa@hbaha@r (all recorded by Redard, p. 215 n. 2); and fasá^l, La@resta@n (cf. fasá^l "small young palm" and nakò^l "tall old palm" in Tangesta@n). A young palm grown haphazardly from a date pit is called peæk (originally "date pit") and kòorost (< kòod-rost, lit., "grown by itself") in F^n and m/harva@s in Tangesta@n. A date-palm grove or orchard is generally called nakòlesta@n, b@a@g@ (garden), æahr (Baæa@gerd; Redard, p. 215 n. 1), mog/@g&#64esta@n (H®ekmat Yag@ma@÷^, p. 240), or nakò^la@t (an Arabic word found in some modern sources).

The date palm is propagated only by planting shoots (pa@ju@æ; vernacular names: Ar. fasá^la; dam^d, Kòu@r; d^m^t, Tangesta@n, properly a shoot having developed roots while still attached to the mother palm; cf. mokoæ < mohkoæ "palm killer," bakòtakan, without independent roots and thus a parasite on the mother palm, Jahrom) of male or female palms eight to ten years old. Artificial pollination (nar ma@yo, K¨u@r; goæn da@dan, Ba@fq; sa@kòtan, Jahrom; bu@ da@dan, Tangesta@n, K¨u@zesta@n) is performed in two ways: Either the pollen (garda) is sprinkled on pistillate flowers (as at K¨u@r; Redard, p. 215), or some staminate spikelets (toreng, Ba@fq) are placed among the pistillate spikelets, which are then loosely tied together with a string (as at Jahrom, Tangesta@n, etc.; Sa@zma@n, p. 93; Ru@háa@n^, pp. 17-19 with illustrations). This task is performed by skilled workers (ma@her, Jahrom; za¿^m, Bandar-e ¿Abba@s, J^roft, etc.), who usually share the crop with the owner (Ru@háa@n^, pp. 17, 271). They tie a strong rope belt (parvanda, Kòu@r; parven[d], F^n; parvand/g, Tangesta@n; parvand, Jahrom; parand, Bandar-e ¿Abba@s, etc.; farvand, K¨u@zesta@n, Iraq) 2-3 m long, made from palm leaflets, around the trunk as an aid in climbing (for a more elaborate version with a wooden prop, used in Tangesta@n, see Sa@zma@n, p. 6). Depending on the female variety, regional conditions, and so on, two to five male palms are required to pollinate one hundred females. Not all male palms produce suitable pollen for this process (Redard, p. 215; Sa@zma@n, p. 93; Ru@háa@n^, pp. 17, 76). In Tangesta@n newly planted palm shoots are watered from a kantal, consisting of two large tin vessels suspended from the ends of a wooden bar that is carried on the shoulders (Ru@háa@n^, p. 73). Shoots of desirable varieties used to be obtained gratis, but after severe war damage to the palm groves of K¨u@zesta@n they were selling for Rls. 800-1,000 apiece (Sa@zma@n, p. 51). Stunted shoots (ka±ak^, F^n) are discarded, but the edible white medulla (koj, pan^r, lit., "cheese," Jahrom) is enjoyed for its crisp sweetness in F^n (Sa@yaba@n^, 1362 ˆ./1983, p. 873).

Felling healthy date palms is considered unlucky, the death of each tree being tantamount to that of a person (Sa@zma@n, p. 10), but sterile male palms and terminally diseased or infested palms are cut down; the trunks are used in construction (cf. Pliny, Naturalis Historia 13.9). According to the traveler Sven Hedin (apud Redard, p. 218 n. 4), the felling of a doomed palm tree is usually postponed until the mourning days of Moháarram (cf. K¨u@r, where pan^r kardan "making cheese," i.e., cutting down a palm for its medulla, is usually carried out on a holiday; H®ekmat Yag@ma@÷^, p. 256 n.).

Crown and terminal bud. Usually the trunk of the date palm is topped by a single crown (ta@j; baæn "top," Draxt-^ a@su@r^g, l. 25; kalle mog, K¨u@r) comprising the fronds (p^‘), the terminal bud, and the date clusters, though the tabarzal palm of Iraq may branch into two, three, or even four crowns (Hussain, tr., p. 41). All these elements are tightly interlaced at the base of the crown, which is protected by layers of tough, intertwined brown fibers (p^‘/j, K¨u@r). These fibers are separated by soaking, then twisted and braided into cords (sa@zu@, K¨u@r), ropes, mats, and the like (Redard, p. 219; H®ekmat Yag@ma@÷^, pp. 249-50). When a date palm is to be cut down, the fronds and date stalks are first cut off with a toothed sickle (da@s-e pangbor, Tangesta@n) about 30 cm long and curved at the tip; then the top of the trunk is peeled to lay bare "the crisp delicious tissues of the terminal bud" (Milne, p. 276; dallak, K¨u@r; del-e mokò, Tangesta@n) and the underlying pith, which is sawed off at its base. The pith, weighing 3-7 kg, is a crisp white marrow called "palm cheese" (pan^r-e m@o@g, K¨u@r; ku@d, F^n), bland but highly nutritious (Redard, p. 219). At F^n (Sa@yaba@n^, 1362 ˆ./1983, p. 873), Jahrom (Ru@háa@n^, p. 270), and probably elsewhere the expression pan^r(-e nakòl) also refers to the edible marrow (koj, Jahrom) of the basal part of the date stalk (20-30 cm long) discarded during pollination. This marrow is sweet in some varieties but somewhat bitter in others (for medicinal uses, cf. Dioscorides, 1.150). Cutting off the terminal bud will kill the palm (pace Pliny, Naturalis Historia 13.9), even if the whole tree is not cut down.

Each frond (æa@kòa; be/araæk, galga, K¨u@r; æa@kò-e bog@, kod-e kòorma@, Ba@fq; p^æ, Kerma@n; tag@, F^n; peæ, La@resta@n; gorz, Tangesta@n), measuring up to 4-5 m in length, has three parts: the spatulate base (kava/eæk, sa@g&#64ar^, K¨u@r; kondelu@, Ba@fq; taftu@k, tag@ot, F^n; aspaku@, La@resta@n; tu@kòatak, Jahrom; ta@pu@l, Tangesta@n), attached to the trunk; the strong, spiny stalk (ba@sk^n, lows, K¨u@r; lot, F^n; ta@tu@k, Bandar-e ¿Abba@s, J^roft, etc.) and midrib (gorz, Tangesta@n; tag@, Bandar-e ¿Abba@s, etc.), 1-2 m long; and the pinnate section, or leaflets (be/araæk, K¨u@r; bog@, Ba@fq; balg-e p^s, Kerma@n; p^æ, F^n; p^æ, pu@æ, Jahrom), about 40 cm long. The bases of cut fronds are left on the tree to serve as footholds, and each year the dried old bases (ta@pu@ls, etc.; ka‘eng, Kòu@r) are pruned for use as fuel and sometimes as floats for fishing nets; in Tangesta@n a wooden mallet (doku@) and a kind of chisel (eækena) are used for this purpose. The copious tough fiber (s^s, Ba@fq, F^n; per^, La@resta@n; par^±e, Jahrom) from the juncture with the trunk is used in the manufacture of ropes, doormats, and, in F^n, primitive footwear for laborers (on processing and braiding par^±e in Jahrom, see Ru@háa@n^, pp. 251-53). The stalks are also used as fuel and, with the spines removed, for threshing; at K¨u@r women use them for beating laundry. The leaflets are woven or braided into a variety of baskets (mostly for packing or carrying dates), mats, lids, bags, caps, brimmed hats, fans, and so on. They are also bundled into brooms (for braiding and weaving at K¨u@r, see Redard, pp. 217-18; H®ekmat Yag@ma@÷^, pp. 247-48; for F^n, Sa@yaba@n^, 1363 ˆ./1984, pp. 150-54).

Dates and pits. The spadix (abare "male spadix," Jahrom) of the palm, whether male or female, develops within a spathe (kav^le, K¨u@r; ka@æk^lu@, Kerma@n; ka@r±ek "dried spathe," F^n; ta@ru@ne, Jahrom, Shiraz; ta@re, Tangesta@n). At Shiraz a distillate (¿araq-e tÂ/ta@ru@ne) is obtained from the fresh, fragrant male spathes; it is advertised as a "hot" tranquilizer and soporific, an "unequaled nervine," and "very useful for rheumatism, articular pains" (from a brochure published by Iran Targol Co., Tehran; cf. Tonoka@bon^, p. 730). The fertilized female spadix gradually develops into a cluster of dates (hu@‘, K¨u@r; pang, Kerma@n, F^n, La@resta@n, Jahrom, Tangesta@n), consisting of a main stalk (tambar, K¨u@r; kòoæmalg, Ba@fq; bokom, kowsala, La@resta@n; nar^, Tangesta@n) branching into many peduncles (terend/t, K¨u@r; teleng, F^n; æen, Tangesta@n), to each of which several dates are attached by hard perianths (kola@hak, ku@na; kola@[h]u@, K¨u@r; ka@lu@, Ba@fq; kofa@r, La@resta@n; kala@fa, Jahrom, etc.; see Dowson and Aten, p. 70).

Traditionally between five and seven stages of maturation were recognized. H®ak^m Mo÷men Tonoka@bon^ (comp. 1080/1669-70; p. 215, s.v. tamr) reported seven: tÂal¿ or wal^¿, inflorescence (male or female), when the spadix is still encased in the spathe; balahá (Pers. g@u@ra-ye kòorma@), with tiny green dates; kòala@l, in which the dates are becoming yellow and sweet; bosr, when they have become yellow and sweet; qasb (in the H®eja@z; Pers. kòorma@-ye sang-æekan; qasbak in Fa@rs; Jaza@yer^, p. 156), in which the dates are still dry; rotáab, in which the dates are ripe and juicy; and tamr, in which ripe dates have withered slightly on the tree. In modern terminology the equivalents to the tÂal¿ and qasb stages are not usually distinguished (for names at F^n, see Sa@yaba@n^, 1362 ˆ./1983, pp. 873-75). Fresh dates in the kòala@l (kòa@/arak; ha@rak, K¨u@r; kòa@rak, Jahrom, Tangesta@n; kòara/u@k, Kerma@n; harak/g, Makra@n) stage are seldom served or sold other than locally. They are usually boiled, dried until they are very hard and wrinkled, then pitted and threaded on strings; in this form they will keep a long time. Certain varieties are preferred for this purpose: in Makra@n (Pakistan) the moza@t^; in M^na@b and elsewhere the hallo, morda@r-sang, æa@ha@n^, æakar-pa@ra, and zarag; in K¨u@zesta@n and Iraq the ke/abka@b (in Iraq ±eb±a@b) and bore/aym (Dowson and Aten, pp. 84-85, 89, 89-90). Commercial kòa@raks are generally brittle and pleasantly sweet.

Usually each date has a pit (hasta; peæk, K¨u@r; kolp^, Ba@fq; dendel[u@], Kerma@n; eætak, F^n; astok, La@resta@n), though at ˆahda@d there is a small (26 x 18 mm) seedless variety, of fine quality, called b^-dandalu@ or haseku@ (Dowson and Aten, p. 6; Kom^s^u@n, II, p. 1651). For both genetic and practical reasons date pits are not used for propagation of valued palms. Owing to their nutritious content, however, they are sometimes ground domestically into a meal that is fed, by itself or mixed with herbage, to cattle (¿Ena@yat, pp. 9-10; Ru@háa@n^, p. 248). According to H®ekmat Yag@ma@÷^ (p. 253), people of K¨u@r used to save them to grind into flour during famine. As there are no mills for date pits in Persia, quantities are exported to other countries in the Persian Gulf area, where they are milled commercially for cattle feed (Eda@ra, p. 16). In Persia date-pit charcoal is used by smiths to polish gold and silver articles (Ru@háa@n^, p. 248).

Varieties. Although the generic term for dates in Persia is kòorma@ (Mid. Pers. xurma@, arma@v; Parth. amra@w; Arm. loanword armav; Pashto kòorma; Baluchi kòorma, hoàrmag, orma@g; K¨u@r^ hoàrma; La@r^ orma@; Redard, p. 216 n. 1; Elfenbein, p. 89), there are approximately 400 varieties of dates (Dowson, tr., p. 82) known by a plethora of vernacular names, many of them synonyms, variants, or corrupted forms. In K¨u@zesta@n and Kerma@næa@ha@n the names are generally those used in Iraq (for descriptions of the most common or important varieties in various parts of Persia, see ¿Ena@yat, pp. 23, 28-37; Ru@háa@n^, pp. 254-63; Sa@yaba@n^, 1362 ˆ./1983, pp. 875-78; Sa@zma@n, pp. 106-07; Redard, p. 216; Faræ^, 1339 ˆ./1960b, p. 77; Kom^s^u@n, II, p. 1651; Dowson, tr., pp. 82 ff.). The most productive variety is the barhá^; depending on conditions, each tree may yield up to 250 kg of dates a year. It does not normally live longer than twenty years, however (Weza@rat, p. 10). The sa@yer date palm, which accounts for more than 90 percent of the date crop in K¨u@zesta@n and ranks first in Persian date exports, produces an average of 18-20 kg of dates a year and remains productive for 100 years, with a peak between the ages of twenty and sixty years (Weza@rat, p. 10; Ru@háa@n^, p. 254; Dowson, tr., p. 64). The best dates in Persia, however, ranked with the famous daqalat-al-nu@r of Algeria, are the æa@ha@n^ of Jahrom and the mozµa@fat^ of Bam. The latter, a dainty, dark-red variety and the most expensive in Persia, is not readily exportable because it is at its best when ripe and juicy and thus subject to spoilage. The æa@ha@n^, constituting the greater part of the crop from Jahrom, is the most esteemed variety in Persia. The honey-colored aæras^ of Qasár-e ˆ^r^n, rated second quality; the commercially unimportant dates of K¨u@r and Ba@fq, harvested and consumed at the kòa@rak stage; the seedless porku@ of ˆahda@d; and the dark-yellow bata@be (?; 6-8 cm long) of K¨a@æ are mainly consumed locally. The inferior kòa@/aru@k of Bam is fed to cattle (Faræ^, I/7, p. 77; Ru@háa@n^, p. 255; Dowson, tr., p. 32; ¿Ena@yat, pp. 30-31, 37, 60, 71).

Domestic and commercial uses.

Culinary uses. Pitted dates, whole or mashed, are the main ingredient in several Persian confections and a principal component in a few cooked dishes. Hard dates (picked at the kòala@l stage) are cooked and added to reæta-polow (a traditional rice dish made on the eve of Nowru@z) and ¿adas-polow (lentil pilaf; Montazáem^, pp. 567, 571; Hekmat, pp. 70-71). Several sweets are made with mashed ripe dates or date syrup, for example, kòorma@-ber^zu@ (Kerma@n; kòorma@-ber^z, F^n), in which date paste is kneaded with wheat flour fried in ghee (Sotu@da, p. 67; Sa@yaba@n^, 1362 ˆ./1983, p. 879); ±anga@l (F^n), a paste of soft dates kneaded with roasted and ground wheat grains (Sa@yaba@n^, 1362 ˆ./1983, p. 879); háalwa@-ye kòorma@, mashed fresh dates mixed with fried flower, spread on a platter, and cut into lozenges, served at funeral ceremonies and on the holy days of Ramazµa@n and Moháarram almost everywhere in Persia (for a ˆ^ra@z^ variant, see Hekmat, p. 140); arda-kòorma@, date paste kneaded with arda (ground sesame) and spices like cardamom and ginger, then flattened and cut into lozenges (Shiraz); and háalwa@ kanaf^, thick date syrup mixed with hemp seeds (Kerma@n; Sotu@da, p. 64). More complex pastries include kolomb/pe, fried mashed dates combined with chopped walnuts, cinnamon, and cloves, then shaped into small balls, wrapped in thin pieces of leavened dough, and baked, usually at Nowru@z (Kerma@n; Sotu@da, p. 137); koma@±/j-e se(he)n, two layers of dough made from ground wheat and sehen (malt) holding a layer of mashed dates, sprinkled with ground walnuts, cumin, and nigella seeds and baked (Kerma@n; Sotu@da, p. 139); rang^nak, pitted rotáabs, stuffed with walnuts and coated generously with fried flour, then sprinkled with cinnamon, powdered sugar, and sometimes chopped pistachios and then cut into lozenges (originally a ˆ^ra@z^ sweet but now popular all over the country; Hekmat, p. 142; Sa@yaba@n^, 1362 ˆ./1983, p. 880).

Manufacture and uses of date syrup and sap. Date syrup (æ^ra-/æahd-e kòorma@; robb, seyla@n, K¨u@zesta@n; du@æow, K¨u@r) is obtained either by pressing fresh dates (producing an average of only 2 kg of juice per 100 kg, and thus expensive) or by boiling dates of poor quality to a syrupy consistency and straining them. The residue (hal, K¨u@r) of the latter process is fed to cattle (Ru@háa@n^, pp. 243-44; Sa@yaba@n^, 1362 ˆ./1983, p. 880; Dowson and Aten, pp. 114, 354). Date syrup is used in various sweets, to preserve or pack choice dates in earthenware jars, and on bread as a main dish. In K¨u@zesta@n syrup from the surplus date crop is consumed locally and also exported to the islands and emirates of the Persian Gulf; a factory for vacuum-packing the syrup in metal boxes was recently established in K¨u@zesta@n (¿Ena@yat, p. 28; Ru@háa@n^, p. 245).

Whereas in Pakistan the sap of Phoenix sylvestris is systematically collected to make date sugar (gu@r; Balfour, I, p. 896), in Persia sterile male date palms and female trees that produce low-quality dates are sometimes tapped for æ^ra: After the young male or female date clusters have been cut off, a container is fixed under the tip of each severed stalk to collect the sap, which continues to rise for weeks or, in female palms, even months. It contains up to 14 percent sucrose, which crystallizes as sugar when the sap is boiled down; the residual molasses is fermented for wine or vinegar (Milne, p. 275). Another alcoholic drink made from dates, ¿araq-e kòorma@, was popular in southern Persia in the 19th century (Schlimmer, p. 179).

The date palm in literature and folklore.

Many casual references to the bountiful, shade-giving date palm are found in classical Persian poetry (see Dehkòoda@, s.vv. nakòl, kòorma@-bon, etc.). A long, nostalgic poem devoted to praise of the date palm by H®ab^b Yag@ma@÷^ (d. 1363 ˆ./1984; quoted by H®ekmat Yag@ma@÷^, pp. 268-70), a native of K¨u@r, is, however, unique in Persian literature.

Information about contemporary folklore concerning the date palm is scanty. The ill fortune associated with cutting down a healthy tree has already been mentioned. At K¨u@r two palm-wood sticks (jar^datayn) inscribed with the Throne verse (Koran 2:256) are placed under the arms of a dead person, to serve him or her as a staff on Resurrection Day (H®ekmat Yag@ma@÷^, pp. 254-55). In addition, the funeral procession is headed by a man who carries two green palm fronds on his shoulders, to be buried with the corpse; it is believed that, as long as these fronds remain fresh, the dead individual will be free from "the torment and pressure of the tomb" (H®ekmat Yag@ma@÷^, p. 377). During the mourning ceremonies on ¿AÚæu@ra@÷ (q.v.; 10 Moháarram) a large wooden structure called a nakòl, which somewhat resembles a date palm, is paraded in some parts of Persia as the symbolic bier of Imam H®osayn.

In the past there seem to have been craftsmen, called nakòlband (lit., "date-palm tier/assembler"), who made ornamental wax replicas of date palms and artificial plants, flowers, and fruits (Borha@n-e qa@táe¿, ed. Mo¿^n, s.v.; AÚnand Ra@j, s.v.).

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