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Panjaras: The windows of old Kuwaiti houses

Palm leaf ceiling of an old Kuwaiti house

Panjara’ used to be the word used to describe windows in old Kuwaiti houses before the term developed into ‘dereesha’, said Kuwaiti heritage researcher Saleh Al- Methan, noting that ‘panjaras’ were usually made from hard teakwood with metal bars called ‘sheesh’ for protection.

Methan added that all old Kuwaiti houses were designed with windows overlooking the inner yard to provide more privacy, while windows overlooking the street outside were only found in diwaniyas (men’s gathering rooms). Methan explained that the word ‘panjara’ is derived from the Farsi word ‘panj’ (five), because these old windows had five panels – four rectangular ones and a fifth on top. He added that panjaras usually were 40, 70 or 80 cm by 100 cm in size.

He added that by time, the upper panel became fixed, and sometimes colored glass replaced the wooden panel to provide natural illumination. The windows were usually made by carpenters who had workshops near the old Souq Al-Selah. — KUNA

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