farsakh or farsang

A unit of distance in the Middle East. The farsakh comes from an ancient Persian unit, the parasang, in principle the distance a horse would walk in an hour, about 3 miles = 12,000 cubits.

In mid 19th century, the Persian farsakh was approximately 6.23 kilometers; the Arab farsakh was shorter, approximately 5.76 kilometers.

Location Period Equivalents Source
Arabia   4.83 kilometers (about 3.00 miles)  
Egypt 20th c2 2.25 kilometers, = 3000 dhira mamari chart symbol 2
19th c 5.542 km = 3000 bâa, chart symbol  
Ethiopia   5.07 kilometers (3.15 miles)  
Iran globe icon,


metric farsang 20th c by the law of 31 May 1926, = 10 kilometers (approximately 6.21371 miles) = 10,000 gaz. 1
farsakh-song Sometimes called a farsang 20th c 6.24 kilometers = 6,000 guz (about 3.88 miles)
The farsakh-song is sometimes valued at 6.72 kilometers
(approximately 4.18 miles).
Muscat and Oman A map showing the location of Oman. 20th c approximately 3 miles (approximately 4.8 kilometers) 1
Tunisia Sfax 19th- about 3.75 kilometers 3
Sahel 60 kilometers

1. United Nations, 1966.

2. Saadeddine Bencheneb.
Bulletin des Études des arabes, Sept-Oct 1952, page 104.

3. Marcel Legendre.
Survivance des Mesures Traditionnelles en Tunisie.
Publications de L’Institut des Hautes Études de Tunis.
Memoires du Centre D’Études de Science Humaines, volume 4.
Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1958.

4. A. Houtum-Schindler.
On the length of the Persian farsakh.
Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society and Monthly Record of Geography, vol. 10, no. 9, pages 584-588 (Sept. 1888).



When discussing the length of the League (Farsakh) in the earlier part of this work, it was explained how in ancient days the learned, in the reign of king Kay Qubād the Kayānian, established the length of the League to be three miles, which is equivalent to 12,000 Common Ells (Dhirā` Khalqī), which is other than the measure known as the Tailor’s Cubit (Gaz-i-Khayyāṭī). Now in the Diary of Malik Shāh it is recorded that this monarch, becoming acquainted with the varying lengths of the Farsakh in his journeyings over the many roads of Īrān and of his other kingdoms, gave orders to measure the (various) Farsakhs. And it was found that while the League was of 15,000 paces (Gām) in Khwārazm more or less, in Ādharbāyjān and Armenia it was only of about 10,000 paces; and throughout the Two `Irāqs, Kurdistān, Luristān, Khūzistān, Khurāsān, Fārs, Shabānkārah and Diyār Bakr, with their neighbouring districts, the Farsakh measured but 6000 paces. Then, furthermore, in the provinces of Rūm (Asia Minor), Gurjistān, Arrān, Mūghān and Shīrvān, the Farsakh was not in use, distances being counted in Stages (Manzil) and by time. Malik Shāh, therefore, throughout his dominions established the use of the League which averaged 6000 paces, and the distances along the roads that he traversed are stage by stage set down in his Diary after this computation. Later, in the reign of Ūljāytū Sulṭān the Mongol, when after this same fashion various roads were measured, and mile-stones set up, the Farsakh was counted, approximately, as of 8000 Tailor’s Cubits (Gaz-i-Khay- yāṭī). Now, the Common Ell (mentioned above) being but two-thirds of the length of the Tailor’s Cubit, and the average Pace (Gām) being of greater length than the Tailor’s Cubit, all the above estimates of the League work out to about the same result, and this may be taken as equivalent more or less to the Farsakh of 12,000 Common Ells, as estimated by the learned men of former days.

Ḥamd-Allāh Mustawfī of Qazwīn.
G. Le Strange, trans.
The Geographical Part of the Nuzhat-al-Qulūb.
Leyden: E. J. Brill, Imprimerie Orientale, 1919.
Chapter 15. Written around 740 A.H.(1340 CE).

X A map showing the location of Iran.

Where is Iran?

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