Mashrabiya or Shanasheel is the Arabic term given to a type of projecting oriel window enclosed with carved wood latticework located on the second storey of a building or higher, often lined with stained glass. The mashrabiya (sometimes shanshool or rushan) is an element of traditional Arabic architecture used since the Middle Ages up to the mid-20th century. It is mostly used on the street side of the building; however, it may also be used internally on the sahn (courtyard) side.
One of the major purposes of the Mashrabiya is privacy, an essential aspect of Arabic culture. A good view of the street can be obtained by the occupants without being seen, preserving the private interior without depriving the occupants from a vista of the public outside. It is said that Mashrabiyas are the ornaments of the rich as it costs a lot of time and finance to produce them.
There is no point in history that can be dated as the first time they appeared; however, the earliest evidence on use of the Mashrabiya as it currently is dates back to the 12th century in Baghdad during the Abbasid period. Whatever is left in Arabic cities is mostly built during the late 19th century and early-to-mid-20th century although some Mashrabiyas can be found that are three or four hundred years old. Unfortunately, very few are restored.
In Lebanon mashrabiya could be found in Beiteddien Palace, Deir el qamar, Tripoli, Saida and few other places.