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A Brief History of the Gardens of Paradise Design
The word paradaiza comes from the ancient Zoroastrian language, Avesta. It is formed from the two root words, pairi and daeza, pairi meaning park and deaza meaning surrounded by walls. It is from this which the biblical concept of Eden is derived. The Qur'an also contains the idea of paradise, eternal happiness awaiting the devout Muslim male after death. After his life, he will live in a garden, served by heavenly winged "Houris" (pure beings) whom occupy this paradise.
A Timurid miniature, painted in 1430 and residing in the Museum of Decorative Arts, shows the legendary lovers Humay and Humayun finding themselves in such a garden. Pairs of cypress trees are more ancient symbols of paradise. In Iran, before the development of Islam, it was believed that the moon was a source of eternal life, its elixir contained in the sap of the moon tree-- usually represented as a cypress. The paradise gardens were vast game reserves where the game was saved for monarchs to practice their favourite sport, hunting. Inspired from the miniature, the garden, symbol of both earthly and heavenly delights, gave rise to a variety of carpet designs.
Most of the carpets with the Gardens of Paradise design are ornated with a central pendant medallion over a floral background and evoke the sight of a spring landscape. The design often contains cypress pairs , a blossoming prunus tree, fruit trees, birds and wild animals (both real and imagined)-- some animals represented in combat and others shown alone. It also frequently contains houris and, occasionally, musicians. The borders are decorated with finely designed and interlaced flowers and arabesques ornated with lotus flowers, pairs of birds and animals that are interwoven between streams of clouds or between motifs of repeated patterns. Many of these carpets, among which we find the Hatvany fragments, partially residing in the Los Angeles County Musuem as well as in Berlin, are distingued by the same light color background found in the minature of Humay and Humayun.
Sources and inspiration: Bérinstain, Valérie, et al. L'art du tapis dans le monde (The art of carpets in the world). Paris: Mengès, 1996. Print.; Jerrehian Jr., Aram K.A. Oriental Rug Primer. Philadelphia: Running Press, 1980. Print.; Herbert, Janice Summers. Oriental Rugs, New York: Macmillan, 1982. Print.; Hackmack, Adolf. Chinese Carpets and Rugs, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1980. Print. ; De Moubray, Amicia, and David Black. Carpets for the home, London: Laurence King Publishing, 1999. Print.; Jacobsen, Charles. Oriental Rugs A Complete Guide, Rutland and Tokyo: Tuttle, 1962. Print.; Bashir, S. (n.d.). Personal interview.; Web site sources and dates of consultation vary (to be confirmed). Without prejudice to official usage.