Chirpici (IPA /kir.'piʧʲ/) is a Romanian term for adobe bricks. Chirpici is a traditional construction material made out of clay and straws, used especially on the steppes of southern Romania, in the Bărăgan Plain, but also in other lowlands of Oltenia, Moldavia and Dobruja.
The Romanian word "chirpici" is derived from a Turkic "Kerpiç", as several Turkic tribes (notably the Cumans and Pechenegs) came from Central Asia and settled in the Bărăgan. As they were less numerous than the Romanians, they were assimilated, but kept the way they made chirpici.
Traditionally, Romanian houses require wood, which is used both for construction (some types of houses in Maramureş and Bukovina were made exclusively out of wood) and also for the burning of bricks. Wood is plentiful in the hilly and mountainous regions of Romania, but in the Bărăgan steppe and other lowlands neither wood nor rock can be easily found and in the Middle Ages it was rather hard to transport them hundreds of kilometres.
As such, the chirpici bricks used for construction are made out of clay, with straws and manure and are baked in the sun before they are used. The result is not as hardy as regular bricks and it becomes less so with time. It is also especially vulnerable during floods.
After the advent of cement and mechanized transportation, chirpici was no longer used on such a large scale, although it remains in use in some parts of Bărăgan Plain, which is one of the least developed areas of Romania.