BĀSMA (also bāṣma, basma,and baṣma), a Turkish word which originally referred to a design applied (with an etching stylus, a wooden block press known as a qāleb-e taḵtāʾī, etc.) in ink, silver and gold foil, and the like to paper, cloth, and other such materials. It is similar in type to designs used in decorating Isfahani cloth (qalamkārī) or to those used in marking ordinary printed cloth (čīt). The noun bāsma and the verb bāsma kardan apparently entered Persian after the Mongol invasion, replacing the terms mohr and mohr kardan; the term bāsmačī was applied to those who stamped the cloth. Thus in the Taḏkerat al-molūk,which was apparently written during the years 1137-42/1724-29, one finds bāsmačī with this meaning, alongside gold­beater (zarkūb), gilder (moḏahheb),and papermaker (kāḡaḏgar).With the spread of the printing industry in Iran, the similarity between the act of applying bāsma designs and that of printing led to the adoption of the term for ṭabʿ and čāp (impression); likewise, the term bāsma-ḵāna came to be used for maṭbaʿa and čāp-ḵāna (printshop, press), bāsmačī for “printer,” and bāsmakārī for “printing.” The term baṣma-ḵāna was em­ployed to mean “press” for the first time in Iran during the Safavid period, at the beginning of the 17th century. The bāsma-ḵāna entry in the trilingual dictionary by a Carmelite father in Iran named Angelo à St. Joseph, Gazophylacium Linguae Persarum (p.415), which was completed in 1081/1670 and published in 1096/1684, defines the term as kār-ḵāna-ye baṣmajī, maṭbaʿ.

The terms bāsma, bāsma-ḵāna, bāsmačī,and bāsmakārī, meaning respectively “print,” “press,” “printer,” and “printing industry,” began to be popularized for a second time in 19th-century Iran through influence from Azerbaijan and Tabrīz. The bāsma-ḵāna of Tabrīz was in operation until the death of ʿAbbās Mīrzā (1249/1833) and the Tehran press (maṭbaʿ-e ḥorūfī)until 1261/1845, when both were replaced by lithographic forms of printing.



M. Dabīrsīāqī, “Nokta-ī šenīdanī az āgāz-e ṣaṇʿat-e čāp dar oṯmānī,” Soḵan 26/4, 1355 Š./1976, pp. 449-54.

Dehḵodā, s.v. čāp. M. Mīnovī, “Awwalīn kār-e maʿrefat,” Yaḡmā 6/5-9 (especially no. 8), 1332 Š./1953, pp. 313-18.

Moḥammad-Mahdī Khan, Sanglax,ed. G. Clauson, GMS, London, 1960, s.v. basma. Taḏkerat al-molūk, ed. M. Dabīrsīāqī, Tehran, 1335 Š./1956, p. 71; ed. Minorsky, p. 100.

Search terms:

باسمه basmeh baasmeh



(M. Dabīrsīāqī)

Originally Published: December 15, 1988

Last Updated: December 15, 1988

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Vol. III, Fasc. 8, p. 851