There is something visionary, romantic, and extreme about Persian Gardens, a thing that could be historical, logical, and real at the same as mythical. Whatever design and pattern, Persian carpets or Persian tiles have, are a reflection of the Persian garden. Over the past decade, science has become the only way of explaining things and the world’s phenomena. It is so that it’s trying to analyze even human cultural heritage with such perspective. If we are to do so, we will certainly lose the main part of our ancestor’s worldview and subsequently, nothing will make us wonder anymore.
Persian Gardens are modules to decorate, design a garden. It is as if earlier Persians came to the decision that where they’d like to grow their plants have to have a special shape and so, they created the Persian Garden. From such a point, we could only be aware of the mechanics. If that is the case, the whole world becomes a piece of huge machinery with a handful of bolts with no other attraction.
These days, science can no longer be the only answer to humanity’s deep needs. We have to march back a few decades or even some millennia to find the left out the meaning of life which we all seem to lack. Persian gardens are not limited to several beautiful, ancient, and pleasant unique gardens. There’s too much philosophy behind it.
Myths have it that there is an image from ancient Iranians about their ideal land, a Utopia called “Airyanem Vaejah”. This image was exactly like a well-ordered, green, prosperous, and fenced garden.
Perhaps the first documented landscaping of these gardens was what Cyrus the Great formed in his Pasargadae, but the idea behind gardening goes back to his ancestors. There is not a soul who has not heard of Baghdad!
Iraq was in the territory of various Iranian empires for up to 1000 years, and names such as Baghdad and Kufa are all Persian. Baghdad (Bagh + dad), or Bagh in general, comes from the Indo-European root meaning apportion and division, and gradually, because the only one who could allocate with justice was Ahuramazdah, Bagh (the word for Garden in Farsi) had a semantic transformation and started to mean God. Therefore, a garden was bestowed from heaven.
The verdure of the garden will only be there as long as the ruler is just and has legitimacy or, in Persian worldview, keeps their Khvarenah (a visible sign from God that this person is chosen to be king or Queen).
Zoroastrianism have deep attachments to the agricultural life and considered it very important and grand, as most of its god and goddesses who are Ahuramazdas’ special forces are protectors of something on earth. This religion strongly believes that that drought would never occur during the reign of just kings who possess Khvarenah. Low rainfall and drought were signs of demonic domination.
One of the most beautiful models of gardening, which happened to be built in the form of the usual Chaharbagh (dividing the whole garden into 4 smaller gardens with each water stream flowing into one of the parts) but with an interesting initiative, is the Palace of One Hundred Columns in Persepolis. The palace was built by the order of King Xerxes, Cyrus’s grandson. All these hundred columns are carved in the shape of a palm tree.
Iranian Chaharbagh is the result of an order. The same symmetry that is in all aspects of Iranian architecture from ancient times till the present. Order is the second of the seven attributes of Ahuramazdah, which at the same time constitute his essence too. On the other hand, the garden and canal drainage system also needs a proper water distribution program, which requires informed and skilled gardeners. That is why the form of the country and the affairs of statehood in the minds of ancient Persians were like a garden and gardening.
A Garden is not a jungle. It’s manned by walls and the so-called forest law, will not be tolerated. It has an owner, just as the country has a king. In all Persian gardens, there is a mansion in the center or north, overlooking the four gardens. The ruler or gardener must take care of the people, which is the plant life of the garden. If all these elements are in balance with each other and work properly, the country is growing and progressing, and the people are at ease.
Some of these gardens are better known around the world and are considered as sn UNESCO World Heritage:
There is no sign of this Garden anymore today. One can only find the rotten irrigation canals, but Cyrus the Great’s Gardens were built accordingly by his command and with his design and in this regard, he created a new style in gardening and garden architecture: Dividing a garden into four parts, directing the water canal through the middle of the garden into these 4 parts, having a royal pavilion to the north or center, and a pool or pond in front of the mansion.
Dolatabad Garden of Yazd
Yazd can be a strange place to have a garden, but with the help of aqueducts, a city was built in the heart of the desert. Dolatabad Garden, which owns the highest wind catcher in the world grows the best fruit trees and its mansion is unique and beautiful.
Shazdeh Garden of Mahan
The mansion of Shazdeh Garden may not be as attractive as Dolatabad Garden or Eram Garden, but its garden structure, entrance, and fountain are very exquisite. The canal system that passes through the middle of the garden is the result of aqueducts, but it is properly guided and has a direct effect on the beauty of the whole complex.
Isfahan’s Chehel Sotoun Garden and Fin garden of Kashan
Many architectural designs were derived from the ancient Iranian tradition during the reign of Safavids. Chehel Sotoun and Fin Gardens were built with the same design and idea. Even Chaharbagh Square in Isfahan couldn’t resist the gardening tradition.
It is not clear in which historical period of Iran Eram Garden was constructed, but it is one of the richest gardens in Iran, which, while maintaining its Chahar-bagh-geometric structure has cultivated various plant species and was turned into a botanical garden. The garden’s mansion is decorated with various arts and beautifully displays the peaceful harmony of humans and nature.
Abbasabad Gardens in Mazandaran, Pahlavanpour garden in Mehriz, and Akbariye in Birjand are also among the Persian gardens registered on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Persian Gardens are not limited to the current Iran boundaries and we could see models of Persian gardens in India too.
In addition to religious mythology, Persian gardens represent the elements of aesthetics, order, geometry, mathematics, and the cooperation of humans and nature. They can be the same in form, but in spirit, they are completely different, although they end in a single unit. On the other hand, a kind of unity while plurality. They have all the elements that were created at the beginning of the creation by Ahuramazdah in their heart: sky, water, soil, plant, and animal.
The first man-made a promise to Ahuramazdah that he will choose him and fend for him in the final battle between Ahuramazda and Ahriman, the devil. To do so, he must create peace and harmony between himself and the nature surrounding them. This was the only way to defeat Ahriman and Persians got on their feet and started their duty and so, the Persian Garden was created.