Portable paradise carpets. Carrying around divine inspiration for a utopian empire on earth.After a tough day battling the Infidel, they could roll out, in the tranquility of their tent, the garden of Fidelity. The Persians so loved their flowery gardens that, when they traveled or were driven indoors by winter weather, they carried with them elaborate colored rugs which were picture plans of the cherished gardens they had left. These rugs were wall hangings rather than floor coverings, and this one shows a pool with channels flowing out between beds of rivers and trees.
One of the most famous was the Winter Carpet of King Chosroes in the sixth century. It was sixty yards square and showed a garden in spring. The soil was gold thread, the water sewn with crystals, and the flowers and trees embroidered with precious stones.
The Mogul conqueror Babur the Tiger was also an enthusiastic gardener, and as he traveled about on his most unpeaceful missions he peacefully collected the flowers and trees of the countries he passed through- as Charlemagne did too- carrying them back to plant in his gardens. Of the ten gardens he laid out in Kabul, the Garden of Fidelity is the one he most loved. Its enclosed formal style was new to India, where the earliest Buddhist gardens were landscapes or groves of trees sacred to the temples they surrounded.
Persian gardens and their Islamic successors continud to inspire subsequent gardens with their design and purpose even if many later gardens may not have any religious or civic function. But as Brend simply and magisterially puts it:
“It is not surprising that the design of Islamic gardens and garden courts is governed by the square grid of water channels which derives from the practical needs of irrigation. Nor is it strange that every vision of Paradise which Islam offers to the believer is that of a garden with running waters, and that every garden in the Islamic world tends to be seen as a metaphor for Paradise.”
Above image: Safavid 16th c. miniature from “The Seven Thrones” of Jami, from Mehdi Khansari, PERSIAN GARDENS, 1997 http://www.electrummagazine.com/2011/07/paradise-gardens-of-persia-eden-and-beyond-as-chahar-bagh/
While a first paradise was lost and remembered or dreamed only in literature or gardens, carpets, tiles and other ways in the Near East, a second paradise may be partially previewed in a biblical prophetic book. In Ezekiel 47:12 the exilic prophet envisions a better future in his challenged present of Babylonian captivity. He rhapsodizes the new trees planted by God and watered by a river flowing directly from the new temple in the New Jerusalem: “all the trees have fruit for food and leaves for the healing of the nations.” Like the first pleasure garden in Eden, “pleasing to the eyes” as well as good for food, this ultimate garden also fills multiple roles as a garden should. This desire of all desires, the ultimate pairi-daeza will be for feeding and healing both body and soul, just as the Persians have always known their gardens to do. Read More:http://www.electrummagazine.com/2011/07/paradise-gardens-of-persia-eden-and-beyond-as-chahar-bagh/
It would be wrong to leave the subject of garden carpets without noting that – while they reached a peak of refinement in the Safavid era – both gardens and their depictions have always been part of Persian culture and remain so today.
The first recorded garden carpet can be traced back to the 6th century AD and the Ctesiphon Palace of the Sassanian King Khosrow I.
His carpet – in fact a huge embroidery – used multi-colored jewels to depict flowers and stones bright as crystal to depict running streams. The branches of the trees were of gold and silver thread and leaves were of silk. Unfortunately, the carpet was destroyed in the Arab conquest of Iran, when it was torn up and shared out as war booty.Read More:http://tea-and-carpets.blogspot.com/2010/07/portable-paradises-world-of-safavid.html