Faezeh Abadi

Researcher and Planner

Sir Thomas Herbert, who was traveling in Iran in the year 1627 together with the British ambassador, has stayed at a heavenly royal garden in Qazvin today known as Taj Abad. The garden was irrigated by a small creek filled by the Qanat; it is still in the same manner it was then. He writes:

“… due to the presence of this creek, the garden was covered in roses and other types of flowers, and there were a lot of plain trees in it which produced shadow. There were also trees of pomegranate, peach, apricot, apple, pear, cherry, and chestnut in this garden; thus, it seemed like a paradise on earth in the heart of a desert of sand and salt.”

Adopted from the UNESCO report on Iranian gardens, p. 331.

Pardis, Ferdows and its English equivalent paradise are considered by many to have the same root, which refers to green and cool gardens. In Qur’an, Ferdows is said to be the highest level of paradise, and since the ancient Iranian gardens were like a paradise in the desert, due to the dry and hot climate of the region, they were called Pardis, which is the Persian translation of the words paradise and Ferdows. Iranian gardens generally had some certain construction principles which according to the taste of the architect or designer and location of the site as well as the architectural style of the period, it could adopt some changes. However, a large pool or pond in front of the main pavilion usually located in the center or the last third of the garden, relatively high walls surrounding the place (because these gardens were generally private property and did not have the function of today’s parks), continuous water paths circulate around the garden and flow into the central pool, and luxuriant arcade of fruit trees and different bushes as well as mainly four small gardens designed in square and formal form are some features of Persian gardening style. In terms of design principles, architecture, and water management and irrigation system, Persian garden has been considered as an architectural phenomenon and has influenced the design of many buildings and palaces in the post-Islamic eras around the world, of which Al-Hamra in Spain and Taj Mahal in India are the most famous examples.

In the other hand, Iranians have always been interested and attracted by art, and numerous prominent artists with global reputation rose from this land. Nature is a source of inspiration to artist and so is the surrounding environment. Therefore, it is not surprising that we have seen many natural elements in Iranian carpet and miniature patterns. One of the most common and popular design of Iranian carpets is called Lachak and Toranj pattern, which is considered to be inspired by Persian gardens. As Lachak is a symbol of small gardens called Charbagh and Torang represents the main pool in the garden and spaces between them is filled with flowers and sometimes birds (which can be seen in Persian garden as well). Even the frame-like pattern around the carpet emphasizes that these gardens are enclosed. Roses and flowers are very popular in Persian art and are widely used in Iranian gardening and carpet designs. 

That is what we see in most of Iranian miniatures; an image of a green garden with high walls and a water pond in the center around which people are having fun and chatting. Even cypress, which is widely used in literature and painting, is one of the popular plants of Persian gardening style. And so are birds and ducks in the miniatures. They are all influenced by Persian gardening style. This is where the environment inspires people. The unique Iranian architecture and its influence on soul and mind of the artist helped to create such masterpieces. Nature has long been an inspiration to artists and those who weave carpet motifs and artists who paint miniatures on canvas. Finally, perhaps we should be more concerned about the spaces we live in today, as the influence of the environment on people is undeniable.