Islamic Gardens and Landscapes

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University of Pennsylvania Press, Jan 16, 2008 - Architecture - 262 pages
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"In the course of my research," writes D. Fairchild Ruggles, "I devoured Arabic agricultural manuals from the tenth through the fourteenth centuries. I love gardening, and in these texts I was able to enter the minds of agriculturalists and botanists of a thousand years ago who likewise believed it was important and interesting to record all the known ways of propagating olive trees, the various uses of rosemary, and how best to fertilize a garden bed."

Western admirers have long seen the Islamic garden as an earthly reflection of the paradise said to await the faithful. However, such simplification, Ruggles contends, denies the sophistication and diversity of the art form. Islamic Gardens and Landscapes immerses the reader in the world of the architects of the great gardens of the Islamic world, from medieval Morocco to contemporary India.

Just as Islamic culture is historically dense, sophisticated, and complex, so too is the history of its built landscapes. Islamic gardens began from the practical need to organize the surrounding space of human civilization, tame nature, enhance the earth's yield, and create a legible map on which to distribute natural resources. Ruggles follows the evolution of these early farming efforts to their aristocratic apex in famous formal gardens of the Alhambra in Spain and the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Whether in a humble city home or a royal courtyard, the garden has several defining characteristics, which Ruggles discusses. Most notable is an enclosed space divided into four equal parts surrounding a central design element. The traditional Islamic garden is inwardly focused, usually surrounded by buildings or in the form of a courtyard. Water provides a counterpoint to the portioned green sections.

Ranging across poetry, court documents, agronomy manuals, and early garden representations, and richly illustrated with pictures and site plans, Islamic Gardens and Landscapes is a book of impressive scope sure to interest scholars and enthusiasts alike.

 

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Contents

Making the Desert Bloom
13
The Science of Gardening
36
Trees and Plants
51
Imaginary Gardens
75
The Garden as Paradise
89
The Here and Hereafter
103
A Garden in Landscape
117
Religion and Culture
131
Turkey
171
Syria and Region
178
Oman
181
Iraq
183
Iran
185
Central Asia
192
Pakistan
196
India
200

List of Gardens and Sites
147
Spain
152
Sicily
159
Morocco
160
Algeria
165
Tunisia
166
Egypt
168
United States
222
Glossary
225
Notes
227
Bibliography
241
Index
255
Acknowledgments
261
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

D. Fairchild Ruggles is Associate Professor of Landscape History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the author of Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain.

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