Persian Gardens of Iran
Chehel Sotoun Palace Esfahan
Chehel Sotoun Palace, is a pavilion in the middle of a park at the far end of a long pool, in Isfahan, Iran, built by Shah Abbas II to be used for his entertainment and receptions.
The Persian Garden consists of a collection of nine gardens, selected from various regions of Iran, which tangibly represent the diverse forms that this type of designed garden has assumed over the centuries and in different climatic conditions. They reflect the flexibility of the Chahar Bagh, or originating principle, of the Persian Garden, which has persisted unchanged over more than two millennia since its first mature expression was found in the garden of Cyrus the Great's Palatial complex, in Pasargadae. Natural elements combine with manmade components in the Persian Garden to create a unique artistic achievement that reflects the ideals of art, philosophical, symbolic and religious concepts.
The Persian Garden materializes the concept of Eden or Paradise on Earth. The perfect design of the Persian Garden, along with its ability to respond to extreme climatic conditions, is the original result of an inspired and intelligent application of different fields of knowledge, i.e. technology, water management and engineering, architecture, botany and agriculture. The notion of the Persian Garden permeates Iranian life and its artistic expressions: references to the garden may be found in literature, poetry, music, calligraphy and carpet design. These, in turn, have inspired also the arrangement of the gardens. The attributes that carry Outstanding Universal Value are the layout of the garden expressed by the specific adaptation of the Chahar Bagh within each component and articulated in the plant/flower beds; the water supply, management and circulation systems from the source to the garden, including all technological and decorative elements that permit the use of water for functional and aesthetic exigencies; the arrangement of trees and plants within the garden that contribute to its characterization and specific micro- climate; the architectural components, including the buildings but not limited to these, that integrate the use of the terrain and vegetation to create unique manmade interchange, have been influenced by other forms of art that, in a mutual interchange, have been influenced by the Persian Garden and have, in turn, contributed to certain visual features and sound effects in the gardens. The Persian Gardens that are inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List including:
- Pasargad Persian Garden at Pasargadae;
- Chehel Sotoun, Esfahan;
- Fin Garden, Kashan;
- Eram Garden, Shiraz;
- Shazdeh Garden, Mahan, Kerman;
- Dolatabad Garden, Yazd;
- Abbasabad Garden, Abbasabad, Mazandaran;
- Akbarieh Garden, South Khorasan Province;
- Pahlevanpour Garden, Mehriz.
The Persian Garden represents a masterpiece of human creative genius. The design of the Persian Garden, based on the right angle and geometrical proportions, is often divided into four sections known as Chahar Bagh (four Gardens). The creation of the Persian Garden was made possible due to intelligent and innovative engineering solutions and a sophisticated water- management system,as well as the appropriate choice of flora and its location in the garden layout. Indeed, the Persian Garden has been associated with the idea of earthly Paradise, forming a stark contrast to its desert setting.
The Persina Garden exhibits an important interchange of human values, having been the principal reference for the development of garden design in Western Asia, Arab countries, and even Europe. It is the geometry and symmetry of the architecture, together with the complex water management system, that seems to have influenced design in all these gardens. The word Paradise entered European languages from the Persian root word "Pardis", which was the name of a beautiful garden enclosed behind walls.
The Persian Garden bears exceptional and even unique testimony to the cultural taditions that have evolved in Iran and the Middle East over some two and a half millennia. Throughout its evolution, the Persian Garden has had a role in various cultural and social aspects of society, becoming a central feature in private residences, palaces and public buildings, as well as in ensembles associated with benevolent or religious institutions, such as tombs, park layouts, palace gardens, Meidans, etc.
The Persian Garden is an outstanding example of a type of garden design achieved by utilizing natural and human elements and integrating significant achievements of Persian culture into a physical and symbolic-artistic expression in harmony with nature, Indeed, the Persian Garden has become a prototype for the geometrically designed garden layout, diffused across the world.
The Persian Garden is directly associated with cultural developments of Outstanding Universal Value. These include literary works and poetry for example by Sa/di, Hafez and Ferdowsi. The Persian Garden is also the principal source of inspiration for the Persian carpet and textile design, miniature painting, music, architectural ornaments, etc. In Avesta, the ancient holy book of the Zoroastrians, the Persian Garden and its sacred plants are praised as one of the four natural elements (earth, heavens, water, and plants). The Chahar Bagh is a reflection of the mythical perception of nature, and the cosmic order in the eyes of the ancient Iranian peoples.
Persian gardens may originate as early as 4000 BCE. Decorated pottery of that time displays the typical cross plan of the Persian garden. The outline of the Pasargad Garden, built around 500 BCE, is viewable today. During the reign of the Sassanids (third to seventh century CE), and under the influence of Zoroastrianism, water in art grew increasingly important. This trend manifested itself in garden design, with greater emphasis on fountains and ponds in gardens.
During the Arab occupation, the aesthetic aspect of the garden increased in importance, overtaking utility. During this time, aesthetic rules that govern the garden grew in importance. An example of this is the chahar bagh, a form of garden that attempts to emulate Eden, with four rivers and four quadrants that represent the world. The design sometimes extends one axis longer than the cross-axis, and may feature water channels that run through each of the four gardens and connect to a central pool.
The invasion of Persian by the Mongols in the thirteenth century led to a new emphasis on highly ornate structure in the garden. The Mongol empire then carried a Persian garden tradition to other parts of their empire (notably India). Babur introduced the Persian garden to Indial. The now unkempt Aram Bagh garden in Agra was the first to many Persian gardens he created. The Taj Mahal embodies the Persian concept of an ideal, paradise- like garden.
The Safavid Dynasty (seventeenth to eighteenth century) built and developed grand and epic layouts that went beyond a simple extension to a palace and became an integral aesthetic and functional part of it. In the following centuries, European garden design began to influence Persia, particularly the designs of France, and secondarily that of Russia and the United Kingdom. Western influences led to changes in the use of water and the species used in bedding. Traditional forms and style are still applied in modern Iranian gardens. They also appear in historic sites, museums and affixed to the houses of the rich.
Elements of Persian garden
Sunlight and its effects were an important factor of structural design in Persian gardens. Textures and shapes were specifically chosen by architects to harness the light. Iran's dry heat makes shade important in gardens, which would be nearly unusable without it. Trees and trellises largely feature as biotic shade; pavilions and walls are also structurally prominent in blocking the sun. the heat also makes water important, both in the design and maintenance of the garden. Irrigation may be required, and may be provide via a form of underground tunnel called a qanat, that transports water from a local aquifer. Well-like structures then connect to the qanat, enabling the drawing of water. Alternatively, an animal- driven Persian well would draw water to the surface. Such wheel systems also moved water around surface water systems, such as those in the chahar bagh style. Trees were often planted in a ditch called a juy, which prevented water evaporation and allowed the water quick access to the tree roots.
The Persian style often attempts to integrate indoors with outdoors through the connection of a surrounding garden with an inner courtyard. Designers often place architectural elements such as vaulted arches between the outer and interior areas to open up the divide between them.