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The Garden in the Carpet, the Carpet in the Garden*
Faryar Javaherian
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 

GABBEH. 

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).