Islamic garden

Traditionally, an Islamic garden is a cool place of rest and reflection, and a reminder of paradise. The Qur’an has many references to gardens, and the garden is used as an earthly analogue for the life in paradise which is promised to believers:

Allah has promised to the believing men and the believing women gardens, beneath which rivers flow, to abide in them, and goodly dwellings in gardens of perpetual abode; and best of all is Allah’s goodly pleasure; that is the grand achievement (Qur’an 9.72)
There are surviving formal Islamic gardens in a wide zone extending from Spain and Morocco in the west to India in the east. Famous Islamic gardens include those of the Taj Mahal in India and the Generalife and Alhambra in Spain.

The general theme of a traditional Islamic garden is water and shade, not surprisingly since Islam came from and generally spread in a hot and arid climate. Unlike English gardens, which are often designed for walking, Islamic gardens are intended for rest and contemplation. For this reason, Islamic gardens usually include places for sitting.

Fairchild Ruggles refers to the universal nature of gardening, and the basic human needs it fulfills; the needs to cultivate, to master the wild landscape, and to bring order to it. The spiritual aspects of gardening, according to this view, were a later development. She further points out the classic formal garden, known as the Charbagh (or Chahar Bagh), is but one form which exists in the Islamic civilization; a civilization which has traditionally included peoples of many faiths and cultures.

Clifford A. Wright, an author on Mediterranean cuisine, describes different garden types for different purposes:

The Muslims had different kinds of gardens serving different purposes. The bustan was the garden of the inner court of a house, a formal garden with pools and water channels. The jannah was an orchard with palms, oranges, and vines irrigated by canals. The rawdah referred in particular to the vegetable garden that produced foods for the cooks.

Persian, Arabic and Byzantine influence
After the Arab invasions of the 7th century CE, the traditional design of the Persian garden was used in the Islamic garden. Persian gardens after that time were traditionally enclosed by walls and were designed to represent paradise; the Persian word for enclosed space is ‘pairi-daeza.’ In the Charbagh, or paradise garden, four water canals typically carry water into a central pool or fountain, interpreted as the four rivers in paradise, filled with milk, honey, wine and water. Hellenistic influences are also apparent; the Western use of straight lines in the plan is blended with Sassanid ornamental plantations and fountains.

Stylistic characters

The tiered garden
The gardens of Islam have had to adapt to difficult climatic conditions to create natural spaces embellished with plants from the South. Open spaces are rare, as are open roads, very exposed. The shortage of water and the permanent insolation led to a particular type of garden development inspired by oases: the garden at different levels ».

The level of shade: A tree plantation offers protection from the sun. They are often palm trees, cypresses and cedars, which combine an elevated shape and a permanent shadow.
The level of the flowering plants: This intermediate floor is dedicated to the flower shrubs: daturas, whose heavy flowers of hanging chalices appear in the engravings, oleanders, hibiscus, jasmine, rose, honeysuckle, lemon or orange. The shrubs are chosen for their exuberant flowering and for their fragrance, which attracts birds and butterflies.
The water level: A level below is occupied by the sources and channels that distribute the water, saving it and recycling it. Hedges of boxwood are used for its simplicity and exceptional durability. The pavements are designed to take advantage of the light rays that cross the foliage. Emphasis is placed on the variety of materials and textures, glazed ceramics and marble are combined with brick and stone.

To protect it from the drying effects of the wind, the garden is surrounded by a wall. Thus, it can have the appearance of a patio planted in the heart of a palace or a building.
When you have a perspective on the landscape, the garden ends in a wall of arches that control the passage of the wind. The arches are partially obscured by mashrabiyas , perforated walls that accelerate the wind, concentrating it in a pond or in a large dish full of water, which contributes to cool the atmosphere.
In all cases, the garden adapts to the unevenness of the land to produce shaded areas and protected enclosures. Terraces occur one and allow natural flow of water.

The water in the Islamic garden
The scarcity of water in the countries of the South makes it a very valuable asset that must be collected, stored and distributed in the most efficient and cheapest way. 2 The qanat and the norias were perfected and very widespread. Witness of the hydraulic knowledge of the Arabs is the same drop of water that meanders through the impressive water ramps of the Generalife Palace of the Alhambra in Granada, which flows to the fountains, slides through the canals and waters the orchards of one level below.

The power of refreshing water is used in a succession of effects at different levels that surround the walker: at the level of the eyes, are the jets of the sources; at the level of the hands, the water ramps; at the level of the feet, the ditches and ponds that are inserted in the pavement and that we crossed almost without realizing.

The waterwheels , animal or human power, bringing water to the tanks ( tanks ). 3 In the Alhambra, a 10-kilometer aqueduct brings water to the upper tanks from a dam in the nearby Sierra Nevada . The acequias that cross the pavement join the ponds in a complex flow by gravity. As in the oases, the ditches irrigate the plants in a totally controlled manner. The parterres are divided by retaining walls, crossed by small clay tubes. Blocked successively by a simple stone, allow irrigation at each level of the garden.

This functional role is combined with symbolic and religious values: the Koran , in effect, imposes certain ablutions before prayer. The cleanliness of the body is expressed by the abundance and sophistication of the bathrooms and their annexes.

Water is finally an important aesthetic element, whose reflections are repeated and multiplied by ceramics, among them the famous ceramics of metallic luster, transmitted to the Arabs by the Byzantines. The murmur of the river brings calm and serenity and is combined with the song of the birds attracted by the flowers.

Shadow paths
Each space, pond of water or parterre is always accompanied by a path of shade. It allows the visitor to admire the garden as well as to protect themselves from the sun. Natural shadows or shadows achieved by galleries, the orientation and the location of the circulation of people through the garden are the subject of special attention.

The role of geometry
Enthusiasts of mathematics, geometry and astronomy, the Arabs have applied to the art of gardening the knowledge acquired by scientists and philosophers such as Avempace or Averroes . The plans of the gardens are articulated from a set of squares in rotation ( sebka ) forming characteristic polygonal or starry patterns. They are also repeated on a smaller scale in other gardens made by groups of tiles or tiles , and with geometric pavements.
Floral motifs decorate the walls and stucco with Kufic script , 4It expands its profusion of intertwined leaves. The inscribed texts mix verses from the Koran, about the construction of the garden and poems:

How beautiful this garden, this garden where the flowers of the earth compete with the brightness of the stars of the sky.
To this bowl of alabaster full of crystal clear water, what can we compare?
Only the moon in all its splendor, shining in the middle of the cloudless ether.

The most beautiful Islamic gardens
Several gardens among the best preserved are found in European territory, formerly occupied by Arabs.

Granada , the Gardens of the Alhambra : Mainly the summer gardens of the Generalife (from the Arabic ” Yannat al-Arif ” or Architect’s garden .) These gardens benefit from the city’s unique microclimate, on the slope of the Sierra Nevada, It provides them with moisture and water in abundance. They have many varieties of unusual plants in these latitudes.
Round Garden of the House of the Moorish King. Garden of the Mondragón Palace.

Marrakech : Villa Majorelle Gardens : Created by the French painter Jacques Majorelle around 1930, these contemporary gardens are a subtle and sensitive reinterpretation of the traditional principles of the gardens of Islam .

Surviving gardens
Many of the gardens of Islamic civilization are lost to us today. While most others may retain their forms, the original plantings have been replaced with modern ones. The garden is a transient form of architectural art dependent upon the climate, and the resources available to those who care for it.

Evliya Çelebi’s 17th century CE Seyahatname (travel book) contains descriptions of Paradise Gardens around the towns of Berat and Elbasan, Albania. According to Dr. Robert Elsie, an expert on Albanian culture, very few traces of the refined oriental culture of the Ottoman era remain here today.

Çelebi describes the town of Berat:

It is a huge open town, entirely outside the walls of the fortress. It is situated in a large area along the bank of the […] river to the east and south of the upper fortress and is covered in vineyards, rose gardens and vegetable gardens. There are 5,000 one- and two-story stonework houses with red-tiled roofs. They are well built and attractive houses with gardens and are spread over seven verdant hills and valleys. Among them are over 100 splendid mansions with cisterns and fountains and an invigorating climate.

Çelebi describes the town of Elbasan:

The open town outside the walls extends on all sides of the fortress to the foot of the hills at a distance of one hour’s march. The prosperous and cheerful-looking mansions in the open town are adorned with beautiful vineyards, paradisiacal gardens and parks with their pavilions and galleries. They are two or three stories high, made of stonework and with tiled roofs. Each of them has a source of pure flowing water, a pool and a fountain with water spurting from jets. They are luxurious dwellings like those in the gardens of paradise.

Dar al-Bahr, the Lake Palace, is situated on the southern end of Beni Hammad Fort, a ruined fortified city which has remained uninhabited for 800 years. Artifacts recovered from the site attest to a high degree of civilization. During its time, it was remarked upon by visitors for the nautical spectacles enacted in its large pool. Surrounding the pool and the palace were terraces, courtyards and gardens. Little is known of the details of these gardens, other than the lion motifs carved in their stone fountains. Beni Hammad Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, noted as an “authentic picture of a fortified Muslim city.”

The Shalimar gardens
The name Shalimar is thought to mean, among other things, “abode of bliss” or “light of the moon”. There were originally three gardens with the name Shalimar: one in Lahore, Pakistan, another in Jammu Kashmir, India and finally one, located in Delhi, which has completely disappeared.

Shalimar Gardens, Lahore
Shalimar Gardens, Lahore, was built by the governor of Lahore, with funds supplied by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, beginning in 1641 CE. The water is supplied by a canal dug from the nearby Ravi river. Built in the Mughal style, it is surrounded by high walls with towers in the corners. The inner face of the walls have traces of frescoes done in floral patterns. The canal passes through the gardens, which are constructed on three separate terraces at different elevations. The garden terraces are laid out in the traditional “paradise” motif of four channels converging on a central fountain, and cover a total of forty acres.

Andalusian Spain
The garden was a common feature of homes in Arab Spain. Andalusian designs emphasized privacy and coolness, with rooms opening onto a roofed, open corridor. Next to this corridor, one would typically find a verdant patio garden complete with central fountain.

Al-Azhar park, Cairo
Al-Azhar Park is a modern landmark in Cairo, Egypt. It is laid out along a central series of terraced, formal Islamic gardens. Multicolored Mamluk stonework, fountains and Islamic geometric patterns are the predominating stylistic theme of the park. It is listed as one of the world’s sixty great public spaces by the Project for Public Spaces (PPS).

Source From Wikipedia