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.
Chapter 1: The Islamic Landscape
Place and Memory
Chapter 2: Making the Desert Bloom
Transforming an Inhospitable Earth
Chapter 3: The Science of Gardening
Agricultural and Botanical Manuals
Chapter 4: Organizing the Earth
Cross-axial Gardens and the Chahar Bagh
Chapter 5: Trees and Plants
Botanical Evidence from Texts and Archaeology
Chapter 6: Representations of Gardens and Landscape
Imagery in Manuscript Paintings, Textiles, and Other Media
Chapter 7: Imaginary Gardens
Gardens in Fantasy and Literature
Chapter 8: The Garden as Paradise
The Historical Beginnings of Paradisiac Iconography
Chapter 9: The Here and Hereafter
Mausolea and Tomb Gardens
Chapter 10: A Garden in Landscape
The Taj Mahal and Its Precursors
Chapter 11: Religion and Culture
The Adoption of Islamic Garden Culture by Non-Muslims
List of Gardens and SitesSpain
Syria and Region
- Awarded the 2009 J. B. Jackson Book Prize from the Foundation for Landscape Studies