The Garden in the Carpet, the Carpet in the Garden*
Architect and curator.
She has curated several exhibitions on the Persian Garden, and has co-authored three
books related to this subject. (For complete CV go to www.faryarjavaherian.com)
Published In 2A Magazine Issue #47 ( Expo 2020 Dubai)
Man’s existence begins in a metaphoric garden — all cultures have compared the womb to a garden — and ends in a metaphysical garden which is paradise. So in a way the concept of the garden is with us from birth to death. There are only two UR-Gardens or paradigms or models of garden design in the world: the Chinese-Japanese garden design, and the Persian Garden design. All other garden designs derive from these two models: English gardens derive from the Japanese garden, French and Italian gardens come from the Persian Garden.
These two archetypes which have generated all the other types of garden in the world are each a reflection of the vision of the world of these two cultures and their Making of the world.
In Iranian cosmogony, two rivers cross each other at a right angle and divide the world into four quarters. This paradigm of the four quarters of the world, or four corners of the world, translated into the “chahār-bāgh” [four gardens] in garden design, and created the “chahār-tāgh” [four vaults] in architecture. In garden design, this unity is created by a grand and often very shallow pool that reflects the sky.
Seven to eight thousand years ago, people on the Iranian plateau busied themselves working on wild plants and flowers in order to tame them and reproduce them, and they took this activity to scientific and aesthetic heights quite unimaginable. Human endeavors which resulted in agriculture are quite understandable since they resulted in the production of food, but the need to capture Beauty from Nature and to domesticate it, is a magical moment of our history.
The first documented garden in Persia is Pasargadae, dating back to the Achaemenid Dynasty (500BC). The Persian Garden has a long history and has influenced other garden designs in the world, because the word PAIRADAEZA which is an old Pahlavi word and meant “an enclosed area” was often cited by Xenophon as PARADEISOS, referring to the Royal Gardens of the Achaemenid kings, and came to mean “paradise” in many Indo-European languages.
First we have to know that the Persian Garden is part of a larger ecosystem which includes its supply of water. The total environmental picture shows the mountain, the underground water drawn with the Qanat system, the water passing through the garden and then exiting the garden to irrigate agricultural fields.
The Persian Garden is the gift of a small stream, whether underground or above ground, which on its way to irrigate arable lands, lingers for a while in a garden for a moment of human enchantment, but never forgetting its original mission, which is to provide water for cultivation. Aesthetically, the stuff which the Persian Garden is made of basically comprises seven elements which all are very sensual:
The first and foremost is water, that most sacred and rare element in our landscape.
The second elements are the trees and plants and flowers which all implacably depend on the gardeners’ vigilance for their livelihood, for growing any kind of greenery in this semi-arid land is almost magical.
The third element is the architecture or built elements and especially the main Pavilion of the garden, its most poetic expression being the Chihilsutūn, slendered and almost immaterialized to the point that it looks like the tents kings used for picnics and which are often depicted in Iranian miniatures.
The fourth element is the sky which has a special quality in all of Iran, and of course its reflection in the main pool of the garden, a subject which has abundantly been written upon, for this is the place where Heaven and Earth reach unity.
The fifth and sixth elements are the sounds and smells of the garden, their most famous expressions being the song of the nightingale and the perfume of the Mohammadi rose, thus completing the aesthetic experience of the Iranian Garden. Finally, what constitutes the seventh element and enhances the aesthetic dimensions of the
garden, is the “hāl” or “sense of being” which being in that space creates. The spirit of place of the garden transcends all the aesthetic and sensuous experiences and transforms them into a quasi- religious feeling.
Most of Persian Garden scholars have stated that the model of the Persian Garden is the Chaharbagh or four-partite garden:
two axes cross each other at a right angle and create four parts which are again sub-divided into four, creating 16 parts and so on. But more recently four Persian Garden scholars have stated otherwise: they are Mahvash Alemi, Maria Subtelny, Fairchild Ruggles and Yves Porter – notice by the way that 3 of them are women, and I tend to agree with them. What these new theoreticians of the Persian Garden assert is that the Chahar- bagh is not to be taken as the literal model for designing the Persian Garden. Chahar-bagh is just a symbolic reference, because as we see in the plans of Persian Gardens, there are not two axes crossing each other, but rather one main longitudinal axis and then many cross axes cutting it, and sometimes two main longitudinal axes as in the Fin Garden.
The Persian Garden was first exported to Greece 2500 years ago, then to the Roman Empire and spread throughout Europe, and I would suggest that most grid-like American cities also derive their plans from the Persian Garden. So I like to insist on the fact that the Persian Garden is the oldest product of our culture which has been exported to the entire world.
Our response to landscape begins with a simple sensory enjoyment of nature. This experience is then increased by some objective understanding of what one experiences, i.e. knowing the names of the plants and birds, the myths and legends which have created the garden… And finally this experience of nature becomes a sort of spiritual experience, though not connected to any particular religion, but rather an experience of “the wisdom and spirit of the Universe” as William Wordsworth expressed it. The more we know about the Persian Garden, the more we will enjoy it.
The concept of the garden is also present and the main source of inspiration in other Persian arts, namely our carpets and our miniatures, our tile works and ceramic frescoes, our architecture, our city design and most of our handicrafts. Carpets are the most well-known single product of exportation from Iran to the entire world and therefore worthy of dwelling on them in more detail. I am not an expert on the technical aspects of weaving carpets, how many knots per square-centimeter, what kind of wool or threads, but I have pondered on the design of our carpets for twelve years now and allow myself to offer an esthetic view of the Persian Carpet.
Figure 1 | The Wagner Carpet rolled out in The Burrell Collection Museum, April2010
THE GARDEN IN THE CARPET
The most extensive repertory of Persian Garden designs is to be found in our carpet designs. If we look closely at Persian carpet designs, we can see that all the various types of garden designs are represented in them.
In April 2010 the Burrell Collection Museum in Glasgow decided to exhibit one of its collection pieces, the Wagner Carpet (figure 1), after some 20 years. Usually all textiles and carpets are kept away from the light in storage and exhibited for periods of 3 up to 6 months in a row, after which time they go back to sleep in storage. In the case of the Wagner Carpet, its huge size was also prohibitive and the Burrell Collection Museum did not have an adequate space for exhibiting it. So putting it on exhibit was a real occasion and in 2010 they decided to have a conference on the theme of Persian Carpets and Persian gardens, to which Professor Robert Hillebrand, Penelope Hobhouse, Moya Carey, a few other scholars and myself were invited to give a talk. The Wagner Carpet dates from the end of the 16th century or early 17th century, it was weaved in Kerman, it is 5.3m by 4.3, which means it is a bit square. It was bought by an Austrian by the name of Mr. Wagner in Kerman, and from then on has been referred to as the Wagner Carpet. Mr. Burrell acquired it in early 20th century. It recently went on display in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
In Persian the word carpet is FARSH and it comes from the Zoroastrian word “farash” which appears in the Avesta and means “renewal.” The verb “farsh kardan” is also derived from this word and means “to cover a surface.” But the word “farsh” also has the same root as the Latin “fresco” from which derive the French “frais” and “fraiche” and the English “fresh.” In all of these words there is a connotation of coolness, newness and to a certain degree of joyfulness.
Figure 2 is one of my favorite carpets: it is a Qashqai Tree of Life rug woven in Neyriz in the 19th century. It is a tribal rug and the golden color of the background refers to a “golden era” of life in the tribe, because tribal rugs are inevitably woven based on the experiences of daily life of the tribe. For instance, if the tribe is in a mourning period, the women, who usually weave the rugs, will use a lot of black wool in the backgrounds of the rugs. If it is a wedding period, a lot of pink and red will be used… This was beautifully depicted in Makhmalbaf’s film
Arthur Upham Pope says that the theme of all Persian Carpets is the Persian Garden. I would say that 80% of them are indeed referring to the Persian Garden, and I would like to begin this brief history of garden-carpets with the most famous one, The “Spring of Khosrow” or “bahare Khosrow.” This carpet was woven with gold, silver and silk threads and covered with thousands of precious stones. Khosrow Parviz, the last Emperor of the Sassanid Dynasty had ordered this huge carpet – almost 300 square meter or 3000 square feet – for the great hall of his Ctesiphon Palace so that in winter he could gaze at this virtual garden. Four centuries later historians Tabari and Belami described this carpet in their works: the water canals were depicted with crystals, the pathways with pearls, the trees were woven in gold and silver
Figure 2 | Neyriz, 20th century, private collection
Figure 3 | Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, opened in 2001 in Muscat
threads, and the flowers were represented with precious stones. The margins were covered with emeralds. This carpet was unfortunately cut into pieces and ransacked during the Arab invasion. So far no virtual image of this carpet has been re
created. So I chose an image which would carry the weight of the scale of the Ctesiphon Palace Hall and perhaps some of its magnificence as well, (Figure 3).
Whether it is an abstract floral pattern, or the depiction of real flowers, plants and animals, or whether it is the actual plan of a garden like the Wagner Carpet, we can see the close relationship which has always existed in our culture between gardens and carpets. In all cases, the Persian carpet either literally or symbolically refers to the Persian Garden. The Wagner carpet is original because it does not represent a typical chahar
bagh plan. It has an H-shape plan with 3 axes. There are two actual gardens where parts of the plan come close to this H-shape: first the southern part of the Farahabad Garden which was a Safavid garden on the southern skirts of Isfahan built by Shah Safi at the very end of the Safavids’reign and which was totally destroyed during the Afghan invasion of Shah Mahmood in late 18th century, and the northern part of the Dowlatabad Garden in Yazd, which is a Zandieh garden, late 18th and early 19th century. But none of these could have been a source of inspiration for the Wagner carpet designer, since it was woven in Kerman in late 16th or early 17th century.
When a carpet shows the structure or the plan of a Persian carpet, it is actually a bird’s eye view of the garden in one glance. The carpet is a 2D image of a garden, but the Persian Garden itself, because of its simple geometry: the main axis, the canals and the water basins, certainly when it is laid out on a piece of flat land, also gives the impression of looking at a surface. We get a sort of mental image of a 2D plan of the whole garden in our mind, because it has such a clear and simple plan. For decades Western Garden historians have referred to our garden design as chahar bagh or four-folded garden plan, but as pointed out the chahar bagh is only a symbolic reference. But still many Western historians think of the Persian Garden as a literal chahar-bagh.
Here is an example of the most famous chahar bagh carpets (Figure 4) of which we have many around in Western museums, namely in the musee des arts Decoratifs in Paris, in Berlin,
in Milan etc… and as you can see it does not have four quarters or kart, so the denomination of chahar bagh is just symbolic, chahar bagh is an “arkan”, and I wonder if this word has any relation to the English word “arcane.”
The Persian Garden was never meant to be seen from the sky, but mentally every visitor sees it in this way. In this aerial view of the Shazdeh Garden in Mahan near Kerman (Figure 5), we can really feel the velvety quality of the trees when seen from the sky. There really is more in common between the Persian Garden and the Persian Carpet than meets the eye…
I have been able to find seven different types of garden carpets, but there could be more and everyone is welcome to establish a more extensive typology.
The first type is the real plan of the garden, like the Wagner carpet or the chahar-bagh carpets, of which we have many around in world museums. The second type is the chessboard carpets which have one kind of image in each frame:
Figure 4 | Lord Aberconway Carpet, Kurdistan, 18th century, Al Sahab Collection
Figure 5 | Shazdeh Garden, ©Jassem Ghazbanpour
various trees, various flowers, and the overall squares refer to the parterres or subdivisions of the Persian Garden, or as we say in Persian, “kart”. Figure 6 is a 19th century Senneh carpet from the collection of Hadi Maktabi. This kind of kheshti design or square boxes was first woven in Kurdistan in the1700’s according to carpet scholar Dr Maktabi and later often used by the Bakhtiari weavers where the chessboard or “kheshti” design is quite common.
In many of these chessboard carpets, the flowers, the plants, the trees and the animals are depicted in vertical elevation, and the symmetry axis is in the middle of the carpet so that we can see the images from both up or down side of it. The Pazyryc carpet also has a chessboard pattern, but I will come back to it in a later part.
The third type is the medallion carpet or what we call “toranj” or “lachak-toranj”. We can say that the majority of Persian carpets have this medallion design and it is common to many different areas: Tabriz, Isfahan, Nain, Mashahd, Kashan, Kerman… Symbolically the medallion represents the central water basin of the garden.
In fact, in Azari Turkish “Gul” means pool, but in Farsi it means flower. The Il-Goli garden in Tabriz is a large pool with a pavilion in its middle. In this medallion carpet dated 16th century from the Tabriz Museum (Figure 7), it is very clear that the medallion flower in the middle represents the central water body of the garden since we also have the ducks swimming in it.
The fourth type is the “golafshan” or mille-fleurs carpets where real flowers are scattered all over the carpet, and is very rare. But most of the mille-fleurs type carpets resemble this one where a bouquet of flowers is inside a vase. Figure 8 is a Qajar Royal Crown carpet from Tehran, from the Collection of Hadi Maktabi.
This type of rugs is much more common and they come in small sizes so as to be used as prayer-rugs, although this one is pure silk with embossed “soof barjesteh” and quite rare. The fifth type is the hunting scene carpet which takes place in the “bagh-shekargah” or hunting domain gardens, owned by many museums around the world, the most famous one being the one from the Rockefeller Collection donated to the Met in New York. But we also have some famous ones in our own carpet museums in Tabriz, Azarbaijan and
Figure 6 | Senneh, 19th century, Collection of Hadi Maktabi
Tehran as in Figure 9. This is a Herat carpet from the 15th c. Herat was the capital of Timurid Iran and one of the most important cities of Greater Khorassan where I am from. It has an up and down and is symmetrical along its vertical axis only. The trees and the vegetation form a luxurious background where the animals are either running or being hunted by the wilder and stronger species.
You can see how naively the water basins and cypresses are represented. There are also two fishes in the basin, and this way of weaving fishes is typical of “mahi dar ham” carpets which are most characteristic of Tabriz carpets. The animals are woven in a naïve and colorful way, and Douanier Rousseau would not have painted these animals in a more colorful and naïve way. The tigers are hunting the deers, (Figure 10). The lambs are being attacked by the hogs. The eagles are hunting the deers. The lions are hunting the cows, (Figure 11).
In the bottom of the carpet we can see some Chinese influence on Persian carpets: there are some cloud-like figures –Chinese Chi – or perhaps dragons, (Figure 12). There are also some rabbits running around and not being bothered by any other animals. The margins also depict various birds, parrot-like, which co
notates Indian influence.
The sixth type is what I call The gate to Paradise carpets. Usually these are much smaller carpets and serve as prayer- rugs since the gate often has the shape of a “Mihrab”. In a mosque, the mihrab indicates the direction of Mecca towards which all prayers are to be addressed. In this extraordinary example from our Carpet Museum of Tehran (Figure 13), what we see beyond the gate is the cypress, which is the symbol of eternal life both in our antic as well as Islamic heritage, so that it is the perfect image of heaven. The rug itself becomes a window to eternity. Usually there is no perspective in the image depicted in the Persian carpet, there is no up and down and it is symmetric in all directions and can be looked at from any angle and always gives an ideal image of the garden. But in the “mehrab” prayer rugs, we have a definite up and down.
Finally, the seventh type is the tree of life or “derakhte jan” carpets which depict a single tree in vertical elevation. Again the cypress is very common in these carpets, but this time without the “mehrab” border. But we also have more abstracted forms of trees as the Neyriz
Besides the prayer rugs and the tree of life carpets, there are some other garden scene carpets which have an up and down and this is a very rare example from our Tehran Carpet Museum where there is absolutely no symmetry at all. It is a 19th century carpet from Tabriz and is a unique example (Figure 14).
The first thing we perceive in a carpet is the central design and the last things we see are the margins. But sometimes the margins are more important than the central design.
The margins represent the enclosing walls of the garden. Zoroastrians believed that the garden should be protected by seven rings of walls so that Ahriman or evil would not be able to penetrate into the garden which was considered a sacred realm.
Therefore, truly authentic Persian carpets have seven margins. One is always broader, separated by two small margins from two medium ones, in turn bordered by two smaller ones, which makes seven.
There is also a very fine one to two centimeter margin finishing off all carpets, but it does not count as a margin since it has no imagery in it and is usually in the main color of the carpet background and is known as “shirazeh” or binding of the rug.
The Pazyryk carpet is very interesting because it seems to be made of margins only (Figure 15). The subdivisions of a garden into square lots or parterres or what we call “kart” is depicted in the center and it only has five margins, but the margins occupy much more space than the central design. This is the oldest known Persian carpet, it dates from the Achaemenid period, 5th
century BC, it is 283 cm by 200 cm and it was found under the frosted land of the Pazyryk valley in Siberia, which is why it has been preserved. It is now in the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg. It is simply the oldest known carpet in the world. The most tangible observation we can make about it is that it shows an incredible talent for abstraction.
The outer margin shows the herdsmen, while the inner one shows the animals of the herd. Compared to the Greeks, the Persians knew how to create abstract forms from the elements of nature, and were thus able to add a metaphysical dimension to the motifs they were showing. So it is this capacity for abstraction which we inherited from pre-Islamic times and which continued and was even reinforced during the Islamic period because human representation was not allowed, which differentiates all Iranian arts from the rest of the Islamic world and it is most visible in the art of carpet design. I would like to end this part with a very significant abstract design which is totally Iranian and which
has spread to the rest of the Islamic world and sometimes even infiltrated Western art: the paisley motif (Figure 16).
It has several different interpretations: one is the bent cypress, which refers to the strength of the cypress which bends in the wind but never breaks… a symbol dear to all Persians, especially to Zoroastrians. There are several millenary cypresses in Iran, two in Cashmar which are 3000 years old and are believed to have been planted by Zoroaster himself, and one which is 4500-year-old in Abarqu, next to Yazd and is mentioned in Pietro Della Valle’s memoirs. The other interpretation is that the paisley is a pine, a flame of fire, an almond, but Dehkhoda believes it represents the wings of birds and namely those of the Simorgh as in Figure 17.
Aother interpretation is that Sassanian kings used their fists as their seals and if you plunge your fist into ink and make a mark on paper with your little finger side, you will see a paisley – or as we call it “boteh jeggeh” – has been shaped. Because of these varied interpretations, I do not include the paisley carpets in my garden-carpet typology, but we can have a look at them:
We have carpets with one large paisley (Figure 18) or paisleys all over as in this Mashhad carpet – my hometown (Figure 19)
THE CARPET IN THE GARDEN
We enter a garden with awe and respect, and so it is when we step onto a carpet: we Iranians usually take our shoes off when we walk on a carpet. We sit on carpets, we eat on them, we lie down and sleep on them, we pray on them… in short we live on them. But most importantly we gaze at our carpets. I always thought that an Iranian is not really an Iranian unless he or she owns a Persian rug, no matter how small or humble. The Persian carpet is one of those artifacts which gives meaning to our daily life by connecting us to our glorious past. When we enter a Persian Garden, we also get a sense of well-being as though we were re-connecting with the paradisiacal spaces we carry in our eternal archetypes.
The Persian Garden is the ideal space for picnics and there is no picnic without laying out first a carpet: in all Persian miniatures, when there is a picnic scene in a garden, there is always a carpet or sometimes several ones. Figure 20 shows a recent picnic in the Pahlavanpour Garden in Mehriz, close to Yazd.
There are three cultures which have the habit of laying out a cloth on the floor and eating on the ground no matter how hard it may be: The Persians, the Indians and the Arabs. Because of its precedence, I think it was the Persians who invented the “sofreh” or table cloth or “kilim” to be laid on the floor to eat, and therefore I also want to search in old Zoroastrian texts for the first Persian picnics which might have been taken place before “sizdah bedar” which dates from Zoroastrian times or even earlier dates. Zoroastrianism is the most ecological religion in the world: everywhere in the Avesta we are invited to respect Nature and to glorify it. Sitting on the floor to eat food and also picnicking on the ground is the best way to feel close to the earth. And this is why I went on to do an exhibition on the art of the picnic… after the Garden Exhibition it just seemed so natural. So it is absolutely clear to me that Gardens/carpets/picnics are very closely related. This is a page from the Moaraqqa e Golshan book, early 17thc from the Golestan Palace Museum (Figure 21), where in the case of royal picnics, the carpet is laid on a “takht”, which is the equivalent of a wooden bench but can also be translated as throne.
Two of the main activities taking place in the garden are playing music — and of course
listening to it, and reciting poetry and listening to it (Figure 22). Smoking opium is also a favorite pastime finding its ideal setting in the Persian Garden.
The Persian Garden is very conducive to hedonism – just as Heaven promises to be – and in general I believe that Iranians are a very hedonistic nation.
The Persian Garden is the ideal place for deriving pleasures, so it provides the best scenery for eating, and therefore also for cooking. We have special rituals for picking up fruit and eating them in the garden:
-For instance we lay down watermelons in the water canals where really cold water is always flowing and we let them cool before slicing them and eating them. So the water canals are used as a natural refrigerator.
-We are the only country in the world which has white mulberries – “toot” – and it is impossible to pick these mulberries which are so small and fragile, so we lay down a huge piece of canvas material under the mulberry tree and several children climb up on it to shake the branches and make the berries fall on the cloth. Sometimes women’s chadors – “veil” – are also used if people happen to be in a “toot” garden suddenly. Maybe that’s why the word chador has a double meaning in Persian: both the large veil women wear and also the tent. Then we gather the berries in large circular trays – “sini” – and eat them in great quantities before washing it down with “dough” which is watered down yogurt. -The picking up of pistachios is most interesting because they have to be rid of their small leafy skin and then the shells have to be opened before we can eat them, and this is done by plunging the pistachios in boiling water for one minute.
Can you imagine all the huge pots of boiling water in the pistachio gardens of Kerman and Rafsanjan? A scene worthy of Fellini! Once the pistachio shells have been slightly opened, we call them “khandan”, or smiling pistachios.
-Iraj Afshar once told me about Nasser al Din Shah’s habits when it came to picking up and eating sour cherries, “albaloo”: his cook would prepare a boiling pan of caramel and walk around the garden behind the king who would pick up sour cherries from the trees, dip them in the hot caramel and eat them. I think this is the pinnacle of hedonism.
Although the Persian carpet is ubiquitous in the Persian Garden, once it is laid on the ground, its importance wanes compared to the garden itself, and the most important activity in the Persian Garden is contemplation.
We lay on the carpet and we watch the water flow in the canals and listen to the music of the water flowing.
Water IS the subject of the Persian Garden. The display of the water is most important and therefore there are many technical feasts for making it seem more voluminous than it really is. But its movement is even more important. There is a mystic dimension to flowing water which makes it comparable to the passage of life.
Whereas stagnant water is supposed to be dirty and not appropriate for ablutions. Stagnant water is depressing and has a connotation of death, and that is why even in the large basins, the water always circulates, coming in from one canal and going into another one.
What differentiates physically and metaphysically the Persian Garden from other types of Oriental or European gardens, is that water has to be flowing: you will not find a pond or a lake in Persian Gardens.
Watching flowing water – even in the smallest streams – gives a mystic contemplation into life which goes by and is never the same in two instants or as Hafez says:
بنشین بر لب جوی و گذر عمر ببین
Sit by the stream and see life pass by. I cannot stress enough the fact that the Persian garden is the gift of a small stream, either above or under the ground, which on its way to irrigate arable lands, lingers for a while in a garden for a moment of human enchantment. Water is most scarce in the arid plateau of Iran and would never be wasted for the sake of beauty and pleasure. Water is tantamount to life and is meant only for drinking or most necessary uses as for the irrigation of cultivated lands.
This is the water coming out of the Shazdeh Garden (Figure 23), one of our most remarkable gardens where the water comes from a “qanat” 70km up in the mountains! And you can see it is not wasted…
This is why we keep our water storages
underground – “ab anbar” – and not open to the sky where most of it would get evaporated. This is also one reason why dams should not be recommended in most parts of our country…
I have always thought that in order to be creative one has to be happy or at least at peace with oneself and the world. I know a lot of people think otherwise or even the opposite, like Freud who thinks that in order to be creative one has to be frustrated or under a lot of pressure. But I would argue that throughout our history we have been most artistic when the socio-political atmosphere was favorable and people were feeling good: “hale khoshi dashtand.” The Persian Garden is a special realm, the earthly manifestation of the heavenly realm, and it puts us in a special mood, “behemoun haal mideh…” Being present in the Persian Garden gives us an image of the world which brings us peace of mind and is conducive to creativity. It is the same imaginal world we perceive when we gaze at a Persian Carpet. Imagine Mahmood Taghi Khan – the governor of Yazd who built the Dowlatabad Garden, sitting in this space under its high dome… what thoughts would such a space be conducive to? (Figure 24)
This is why the scale of the garden is not important. It can be a small 100m2 courtyard like any “godal-baghcheh” or a terrace, or a balcony. Figure 25 is my own roof garden, with the artificial trees that Abbas Kiarostami made for my Garden exhibition…
We produce the atmosphere of a Persian Garden by laying down a small rug on a wooden bench. The rug itself is like a miniaturized garden. Iranians used to have such benches in their courtyards and in the afternoon after watering the plants, the carpets would be laid down on these beds and the samovar would come out for tea time in the garden… Some of the best memories from my own childhood come from these peaceful tea ceremonies. This is why so many traditional Iranian cafes, especially the ones which are located on riversides, use these large benches and rugs. Once we take off our shoes and sit on these rugs to drink tea or eat, we already are in the Persian Garden, (Figure 26).
But of all the activities which take place in the Persian Garden, we should not forget this one: most of all the Persian Garden is the ideal space for love, (Figure 27).