The Iranian Army Berno (Brno) Rifle

The Iranian-built “Berno” was originally designed by Czechoslovakia’s Zbrojovka Brno Company, which was a weapons and vehicle manufacturing firm. The Czechoslovak rifle  was actually based on the German Gew 98b design. Technically, this was the Mauser 1898, featuring a total length of 1250 mm, originally as the G98 (meaning Gewehr 98, meaning the 1898 rifle 1898 model for the Imperial German Army). This design was so reliable and it influenced the production of some models of the US Springfield and British Lee-Enfield rifles.

Berno-16-G98The original Mauser G98 from which the Czechoslovak Brno was based on (Picture Source: Several industrialized nations have built the Mauser rifle and clones have been made in virtually every through license agreements with the Mauser firm in Orberndorf, Germany. One of the most prominent of these licensing arrangements was made with Czechoslovakia which led to the production (also via licensing) of high-quality models in Iran as well. Several other nations have also produced the Mauser-based rifle, including, Turkey, Peru, Venezuela, Spain, Brazil, Spain, Mexico, Sweden, Belgium, Argentina, and Yugoslavia.

It did not take long for this venerable weapon with its excellent bolt-action technology to find its way into Iran by the early 1900s. Iranian Constitutional fighters used this weapon in their battles to promote what was Western Asia’s first Democracy movement.

Berno-15-M<ashrooteh-MausersAn excellent photo of Iranian Constitutional Fighters armed with the Mauser (Picture Source: This weapon was to be later introduced on a much larger scale as the Iranian army manufactured it under license from the Czechoslovak Zbrojovka Brno Company.

By the mid-1920s, two other types of rifles were being used in Iran: the Russian Mosin-Nagant (Noghaan, or Naaghaan, نوغان- ناغان in the popular slang of the time)and the British Lee-Enfield. Explanations vary as to why the administration of Reza Shah chose to adopt the Mauser-based Brno. One strong possibility is that Reza Shah wanted to distance the Iranian army’s reliance on Britain and Russia as sources of military supplies. Whatever the true reason, the Iranian Army opted to adopt the Berno (Brno) as its primary infantry rifle. In addition, the Berno (Brno) was considered to be he best rifle of its type at the time.

Berno-6[Click to Enlarge] The original delivery Berno [Brno] manufactured in Czechoslovakia for the Iranian army (Picture Source: Milpas). Note the Persian writing which states “Karkhaneye Aslahe-Saziye Berno [Lit. Brno Weapons manufacturing Factory]”. The Jalali Calendar date of 1309 on the rifle places its date of manufacture to 1930. 

Iran was to later produce the weapon under license. By the late 1940s, the Taslihat-e Artesh (Arms Factories of the Army) in Tehran, known colloquially as “Mosalsal-sazi” (lit. machine-gun construction), engaged in the mass-production of the Berno [Brno].

Berno-12-Kootah[Click to Enlarge] A version of the Berno (Brno) produced in Iran in 1949 – Jalali calendar of 1328 (Picture Source: The Persian script states “Sakht-e Aslehe-Sazi-e Artesh” [lit. Built by the Weapons Manufacturing of the Army].

The Iranian army considered the “Berno” (Brno) as the best military rifle of its time. Iranian veterans have noted of the sturdiness and reliability of this rifle. Iranian tribal warriors especially valued the Berno (Brno) well into the late 1970s.

 Berno-3A more comprehensive view of the 1930 Czech manufacture Berno [Brno] (Picture Source: Milpas).

The Iranian built Berno (Brno) came in two versions:

1) the regular Berno (Brno) (Length=1110 mm): this was technically the regular VZ24 rifle, highly similar to the Kar-98k of Germany.

2) a shorter version of the Berno (Brno) known as Berno e Kootah (the short Berno) (Length=993 mm): this was similar to the G-30 of Germany.


The Berno e Kootah (the short Berno) (Picture Source: The required machinery and training for producing the Berno (Brno) rifles was provided by the Czech powerhouse firm, Škoda, which has had long-standing ties with the Iranian industrial sector.

The Berno (Brno) remained as the standard weapon of the Iranian army until its replacement The Berno (Brno) remained in Iranian army service until 1960 when it was finally replaced by the US- M1 Garand semi-automatic rifle. The M1 in turn was replaced by the German-designed G3 of Heckler and Koch in the 1970s. The Berno however was to remain in service with the Iranian Gendarmerie until 1979.

Berno-2Another view of the 1930 Czech manufactured Brno; note close-ups of insignias and the Lion and Sun symbol (Picture Source: Milpas). 

Despite its phasing out in the 1960s-1970s, the Berno (Brno) continued to earn the admiration and respect of the Iranian infantrymen.

Berno-11[Click to Enlarge] Yet another view of the 1930 Czech manufacture Brno; the section above has the Persian word “Piyade” which roughly translates as “Infantryman”, but the term is better translated as “on Foot”. The term (Piyade) in Iranian military lexicon is meant to be differentiated from the Savar (mounted cavalryman) (Picture Source: Milpas). 

The Berno (Brno) was to serve the Iranian Army with special effectiveness, especially against Soviet-trained persons who were fighting against Tehran to advance the cause of the former Soviet Union inside Iran.

Iranian Army training 1940sIranian soldiers in training during the allied occupation of Iran (Picture Source:; note the Berno [Brno] rifles slung on their shoulders during the exercises. When Russia withdrew her military umbrella from her satellite states in northern Iran in May 1946, the Moscow-Baku controlled separatist movements of northwest Iran quickly collapsed as the Iranian army entered the region in December 1946 (For more information see Iran at War: 1500-1988-(ایران در جنگ (۱۹۸۸-۱۵۰۰- 2011 -pp. 283-293).

Iran’s Favorite Dish: the Chelo Kebab

The article below on Iran’s Favorite Dish, the Chelo Kebab (ČELOW-KABĀB), by S¡oḡrā Bāzargān and Ṣoḡrā Bāzargān was originally published in the Encyclopedia Iranica on December 15, 1990.

ČELOW-KABĀB is a popular Persian dish which consists of cooked rice (čelow; see berenj) and a variety of broiled (kabāb, see below) mutton or veal (though less popular) and is served with butter, egg yolk, powdered sumac, raw onions, broiled tomatoes, and fresh sweet basil.


ČELOW-KABĀB, a popular Persian dish which consists of cooked rice (čelow) and a variety of broiled (kabāb, see below) mutton or veal (though less popular) and is served with butter, egg yolk, powdered sumac, raw onions, broiled tomatoes, and fresh sweet basil. It is served in the form of a mound with some butter buried inside. Different čelow-kabābs are usually named after the type of kabāb served with it (for examples see below). The drink traditionally served with čelow-kabāb is dūḡ, a beverage made with yogurt and water; in the past two decades, however, beverages such as Coca Cola have also become popular. Accord­ing to Nāder Mīrzā (pp. 240-41), the people of Tabrīz used to eat čelow-kabāb with cotton candy (pašmak) and sekanjabīn (sweet-and-sour mint drink, q.v.).

Nasseredin Shah-KamalolmolkOne the  Čelow-kabāb’s first distinguished (and regal) fans: Nasser-e-din Shah (1831-1896) of the Qajar Dynasty (1785-1925) as portrayed in a painting by  Kamal ol Molk (Picture Source: Public Domain).

The dish is not mentioned in the two culinary tracts of the 10th/16th century (ed. Afšār) and was probably created in the Qajar period. It was part of Nāṣer-al-Dīn Shah’s diet (Āšpazbāšī, p. 8) and, according to Nāder Mīrzā (loc. cit.), a favorite dish of the people of Tabrīz, where it was served in restaurants (čelowpaz-ḵāna).

Chelo Kabab-Tabriz[Click to Enlarge] Serving of fresh skewers of Čelow-kabāb in the city of Tabriz, Iran’s Azarbaijan province (Picture Source: Payvand News). Tabriz is famous throughout Iran for its culinary style of the Čelow-kabāb dish and is also known for having popularized this throughout the country as well. There are still traditional restaurants in Tabriz that serve skewers almost a meter long!

Čelow-kabāb-e solṭānī

Strips of the fillet of the best-quality meat are marinated overnight in a mixture of finely chopped onions and saffron, then gently beaten flat with the back of a kitchen knife, and finally broiled slowly on a skewer over charcoal fire. After the kabāb is cooked, it is placed on a platter or tray and pulled off the skewers with a piece of flat bread. The kabāb is then brushed with butter, decorated with onion rings and fresh sweet basil, and served with rice, butter, sumac, and broiled tomatoes. This highly regarded dish is a specialty of Tabrīz restaurants. In some restaurants it includes both kabāb-e barg and kabāb-e kūbīda.

Chelo Kakab-Soltani-Pars Times[Click to Enlarge] The Čelow-kabāb-e solṭānī (Picture Source: Pars Times).

Čelow-kabāb-e barg

This kabāb is prepared like kabāb-e solṭānī except that the meat pieces are cut into smaller chunks and saffron is omitted from the marinade.


[Click to Enlarge] A serving of Čelow-kabāb-e barg (Picture Source: How to Cook Persian Food Blog).

Čelow-kabāb-e kūbīda

The ingredients consist of ground meat, grated onion, minced fresh sweet basil (only in a recent variety popular in Shiraz), salt, pepper, and egg yolk, which are mixed together and thoroughly kneaded. (In the past, the meat was placed in a bowl over steam and kneaded to melt the fat and mix it well with the meat.) Then, small portions of the mixture are placed around wide skewers, which are slightly damp­ened with water, and pressed with the fingers. The skewers are then placed over a hot charcoal grill, and the fire is fanned immediately, until the kabāb turns brown­ish; then the kabāb is left to cook until it is done. Finally the kabāb is placed between layers of flat bread to soak the fat and sprinkled with sumac and served with čelow. In another variety, kabāb-e dīgī (pot kabob), strips of the kabāb are broiled on a stove in a pot or a broiler tray. Kabāb-e kūbīda is also eaten with bread (nān o kabāb) instead of rice, and in recent years many fast-food restaurants specializing in kabāb-e kūbīda have opened in large cities.

Kabab-Koobideh[Click to Enlarge] A serving of Čelow-kabāb-e kūbīda (Picture Source: Akbar Joojeh Restaurant, Thornhill, Ontario).

Kabāb-e ḥosaynī

Chunks of meat (often marinated in a mixture of yogurt, saffron, grated onions, salt, and pepper), sheep tail fat (donba), small white onions, and green peppers are put on skewers made of pomegranate or fig branches or stainless steel, and then layers of tomato rings, chopped onion, and kabāb skewers are arranged in a large pot and simmered over low heat. An almost identical variety is šīš-kabāb (or kabōb-e sīḵī, kabāb-e kenja), except that it is broiled over a low charcoal fire rather than in a pot.

Kabab-Husseini[Click to Enlarge] A serving of Kabāb-e ḥosaynī (Picture Source: Armandeep Singh 1980).


Ī. Afšār, ed., Āšpazī-e dawra-ye ṣafawī, Tehran, 1360 Š./1981.

Mīrzā ʿAlī-Akbar Khan Āšpazbāšī, Sofra-ye aṭʿema, Tehran, 1353 Š./1974, pp. 8-9.

Nāder Mīrzā Qājār, Tārīḵ-ejoḡrāfīā-­ye dār-al-salṭana-ye Tabrīz, Tehran, 1323/1905.

N. Ramazani, Persian Cooking, New York, 1974, index.

Żīāʾ Laškar Dāneš, Kollīyāt-e Ḥakīm Sūrī, Tehran, n.d., I, pp. 3, 40, 61, 68, 75.

Iranian Artillery Units: Early 1900s-1941

Early 1900s-1925

The battered Iranian military had yet to recover from its devastating defeats at Russian and British hands in the first five decades of the 19th century which resulted in the losses of large chunks of territory, notably Herat and the South Caucasus. Another issue was vehement Russian (and latent British – esp. by the early 1900s) opposition to the revival and modernization of the Iranian army.

The Iranian military by the early 1900s was poorly organized with much of its equipment obsolete and inadequately maintained. There were small numbers of modern artillery and machine guns but at wholly insufficient quantities. This meant that Imperial Russian, British and Ottoman armies could enter Iranian territory at will.

Iranian Gendarmes-75 mm guns[Click to Enlarge] The most effective force of the Iranian military prior to and during World war One: the Gendarmerie – above are Iranian Gendarmerie posing with two 75mm (Shneider-Cruesot?) in Tehran prior to World War One (Picture Source: Morgan Shuster, The Strangling of Persia, T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1913, pp. 144, 152). Despite being a para-military force, the Iranian Gendarmes fought very well against opponents who enjoyed superiority in numbers and military equipment.  For more on the Iranian Gendarmerie, consult Professor Stephanie Cronin’s article in the Encylopedia Iranica.

By the end of World War One, Iran’s artillery corps was equipped with a chaotic motley left-over Ottoman, Russian and British, along with some numbers of German made MG-08 pieces and the Swedish Bofors 75mm mountain gun.

Iranian Artillery Units: Early 1920s-1941

Iran’s inventory of artillery in 1922 stood at a modest total of just 86 pieces. This was dangerously inadequate for the task of defending the country’s borders, a fact fully understood by the new unified and modernized Iranian military force, which began its debut from the mid-1920s.

2-Bofors-75 mmAn old undated photo of an Iranian Swedish made Bofors 75mm mountain gun. These had seen service with the Iranian army since the early 20th century. Four of these have survived to this day, now on display at the gates of the Gilan barracks in northern Iran (Picture Source: Matofi, A., 1999, Tarikh-e-Chahar Hezar Sal-e Artesh-e Iran: Az Tamadon-e Elam ta 1320 Khorsheedi, Jang-e- Iran va Araqh [The 4000 Year History of the Army of Iran: From the Elamite Civilization to 1941, the Iran-Iraq War]. Tehran:Entesharat-e Iman, p. 1043).

Reza Shah placed a high priority towards the modernization and expansion of Iran’s armed forces, with the artillery corps receiving close attention. By 1941 Iran possessed 874 cannon, with 350 modern pieces (mainly light and medium calibers – some motorized) being ordered from overseas. The artillery force however continued to use antiquated equipment such as the 75mm Bofors mountain guns and the Shneider-Cruesot 75-mm cannon seen during the Constitutional revolution. Nevertheless, in just 19 years (1922-1941) Iran’s inventory of cannon had increased ten-fold. This was a remarkable achievement for a country which just years before, had had no true national army since the 19th century.

Iranian Army-75mm Mountain-Bofors[Click to Enlarge] Iranian artillery unit of 75mm Bofors mountain guns (Picture Source: Network54).

By 1941, an Iranian Army regiment was equipped with 81mm mortars and six 37mm Skoda anti-tank guns. Hence (at least theoretically) this meant that the army’s 45 infantry regiments would have been equipped with minimum of 270 anti-tank guns and another 270 mortars. In practice however, these numbers were most likely less and not as evenly distributed among all the regiments.

Iranian Army-105mm Artillery-Skoda[Click to Enlarge] Iranian artillery unit of 105mm Skoda artillery pieces (Picture Source: Network54).

The organization of the army’s artillery units are believed to have been as follows at the eve of the Anglo-Russian invasion of Iran on August 25, 1941 (assuming that each battery was composed of four artillery pieces):

  • 12 batteries of 100mm Skoda M14 (short barrel) howitzers (Total=48 )
  • 18 batteries 100mm Skoda M30 howitzers (long barrel) (Total=72)
  • 39 batteries 75mm Bofors M1934 mountain guns (Total= 156) – mountain guns carried by pack mules
  • 10 1/2 batteries 75mm Schneider M1909 mountain guns (Total=42) – statistics debated – suggested at lesser (6 1/2 batteries) – mountain guns carried by pack mules
  • 4 Batteries  75mm Schneider Model 1919 (Total=16)
  • 2 batteries 75mm Aboukoff (Russian) (Total=8)
  • Possibly 4 batteries of 105mm Skoda M35 towed by Praga tractors for coastal defense along the Caspian (Possible Total=16)
  • 11 1/2 batteries 75mm M1929 anti-aircraft guns towed by Marmon Herrington vehicles – more artillery pieces had been on order but not delivered after 1939 (Total=46) – Note: Six of the anti-aircraft batteries were part of the mechanized brigade with three anti-aircraft batteries a part of the 6th Khuzestan Division (two of these were in storage or reserve however).
  • 1 battery of unknown British guns (possibly 18-Pounders) (Total=4)

Each regiment possessed three mountain batteries and one field battery. Excepting the mountain guns that were carried by pack mules, the artillery of the mechanized brigade was transported by Marmon Herrington vehicles. The rest of the artillery was drawn by horses.  The above statistics and corresponding information are of course subject to revision as more data is uncovered by future research.

Iranian Army-75mm AAA-Bofors[Click to Enlarge] Iranian artillery unit of 75mm Bofors anti-aircraft artillery (Picture Source: Network54). At least another twenty of these which had been on order were never delivered to Iran.

City named “Shahyar” in China

The article below has been forwarded to by Sheda Vasseghi. Kindly note that a number of sentences and paragraphs have also been added/edited by into the Sheda Vasseghi article. Two additional pictures and captions have been added with a caption added for the picture originally forwarded by Sheda Vasseghi.

shedaSheda Vasseghi has a Master of Arts in Ancient History, with honors, emphasis on Ancient Persia, from American Military University (West Virginia) and a Master of Science in Business Administration from Strayer University (Washington, DC). Ms. Vasseghi is an adjunct professor of history at Northern Virginia Community College. She is also a correspondent with Freepressers in relation to Iran’s affairs. Ms. Vasseghi is a spokeswoman for Azadegan Foundation, a non-profit organization in support of a secular, democratic Iran. She joined persepolis3D in 2003 in handling historical consultation on Iran’s history as well as public relations matters. Ms. Vasseghi may be contacted in relation to the following: (1) planning exhibitions for advertising purposes in promoting historical and cultural awareness of ancient and modern Iran (2) educational services such as conducting and providing classes, workshops, and seminars featuring interviews and speeches in the field of Iranian affairs (3) custom writing services in the field of Iranian affairs and (4) writing of articles for professional journals in the field of Iranian affairs. Ms. Vasseghi may be contacted at



Sasanian Persian King Narseh, the last Iranian king post-first Islamic invasion of mid-7th c. crowned in exile, is often with us … as noted before a group of Iranian nobility including Sasanian kings were given refugee in the Chinese court – Tang dynasty; hence, my affections for that Chinese era … many Iranian princes served as military commanders in the Chinese army and Iranians in general settled in the region in trying to make a new life for themselves.

Tocharian-Donors[Click to Enlarge] The “Tocharian donors” as depicted in the 6th-century CE fresco from the Qizil (or Kizil) Buddhist caves in Xinjiang, China. The attire of the Sassanians, notably Prince Pirouz, son of the fallen Yazdegird III-یزدگرد سوم- (r. 632-651 CE), would have been strongly similar to the attire of the nobles depicted above. For more on the topic of the last Sassanians and their arrival into Tang China see “Tang Dynasty Times: Persian prince Pirouz“.

It is notable that a small town near Xinjiang (where many Sassanian nobility had settled) is called “Shahyar” (Persian: companion of the king).

Google Maps-Shahyar-China[Click to Enlarge]As noted in the above Google Maps description: “Shahyar is a place with a very small population in the province of Xinjiang, China which is located in the continent/region of Asia”. Cities, townships and locales close to Shahyar include ShorYar, Xayar, Schahjar and Chahyar. The closest major cities include Aksu, Yining, Shihezi and Urumqi (Urumchi).

Xinjiang has, since ancient times, been a multicultural region with contacts made with several Iranian peoples, especially the Soghdians of Central Asia. The following is based on Chinese records regarding the region:

Since ancient times Xinjiang (the Western Regions in China) has been home to as many as 30 ancient ethnic groups such as Persians, Greeks, Indians, Chinese, Turks, and the like, some intercultural tools developed early on for social interaction and commerce such as varied linguistic developments … among 30 languages spoken in Xinjiang region are Iranian Persian and Sogdian … among 20 written languages are Iranian Persian, Sogdian, and Manichean … from the 5 different scripts adopted in the region, one used for Yutain, Tubo and Phags-pa come from sisters to Iranians, the Indian Brahmi script; and one used for Sogdian and Turkic scripts come from Persian Aramaic alphabet …

Shahyar in China-2A rectangular piece of tapestry coming from the Xingjian Ughur Autonomous Region of China clearly showing Sasanian Persian influences in design and artwork. The physiognomy of the person drawn in the tapestry is Caucasoid as opposed to Asiatic, indicative of the strong Indo-European presence in the region since proto Indo-Europeans (i.e. the Tocharians) first entered the region thousands of years ago (Picture source: Several Western researchers however suggest that the person depicted above is a Greek.

Readers are invited to see the video below discussing the findings in the region. Note that a large amount of Sasanian Persian coins have been discovered, alongside other Iranian-style textile; however the expert discussing these findings refrains any mention of their Iranian connections. Instead he provides a general (non-descriptive) overview that refer to inspirations from “some place” … it would appear that this is consistent with some select academic circles that have a tendency to downplay or avoid mention of possible Iranian origins for cultural artifacts.

Secrets of the Silk Road: Trade (

The Last Iranian Tiger in Georgia

The information cited below was forward to by Kooshan Mehran. It was originally posted in the Georgian National Museum.


The Turan tiger-Male, Panthera (Tigris) Virgata species is now unfortunately extinct. The sample seen below was hunted near Tbilisi, specifically in the village of  Lelobi in 1922 by the Tiklauri brothers. The tiger is believed to have come to Georgia from Iran, before meeting his demise in Lelobi.

Panthera-virgata The Panthera (Tigris) Virgata who originated in Iran and met his end in the village of Lelobi, near Tbilisi in Georgia. This is one of the last known specimens of this species of Tiger, now believed to be extinct (Picture Source: Georgian National Museum).