#CIHA202401657Terrestrial Paradise on Paper: The Symbolism of Garden in the Illuminations of the Timurid Manuscripts

G. Ecologie et Politique
Making Green Worlds (ca. 1492-1700)
A. Fener 1,*, E. FENER 1.
1Manuscripts Institution Of Turkey - Istanbul (Turquie)

*Auteur(s) correspondant(s).
Adresse email : feneralpaslan@gmail.com (A.Fener)


Sujet en anglais / Topic in english

Sujet de la session en français / Topic in french

Texte de la proposition de communication en français ou en anglais

The garden-building and gardening activities of Timur and his successors were part of a landscape tradition that had existed in Iran since the Achaemenids. In the ancient Iranian tradition, garden had a religious-ideological meaning as well as it was a result of practical need. Accordingly, "garden" also had an abstract meaning representing "order" in the ancient Iranian culture. This was also the case during the Timurid period. The sources record that Sultan-Husayn Bayqara and the Timurid ruling class of his period were particularly active in the construction of vineyards (bagh) and gardens (baghche) due to the aforementioned motives. Moreover, it is known that these gardens hosted political, intellectual and entertainment “assemblies” during Bayqara's reign. It is undoubtedly true that this interest and orientation in the Timurid world stemmed from concrete and practical reasons such as climatic-environmental, economic, etc., as in other political formations that have existed in Iran since ancient times. However, there is also a philosophical level of meaning behind these concrete and practical needs. An artistic phenomenon in Islamic manuscripts, the earliest examples of which can be found in the 14th century and which developed and became widespread during the Timurid period, is the image of the vineyard, garden, and earthly paradise. Examples of this phenomenon are the illuminated circular fihrists (tables of contents) which can be seen in the double-page illumination (zahriyah) of Islamic manuscripts. Through iconology, this study will justify the claim that illuminated circular fihrists in the Timurid manuscripts actually have abstract-philosophical levels of meaning such as garden and earthly paradise. In this respect, the religio-political, historical, and cultural codes underlying both levels of meaning will be addressed. The study will first examine the interrelated religious, ideological, and social meanings of the concepts of garden and paradise in the Timurid world. Then, it will point out that these mental matchings have a practical counterpart, namely the vineyard and garden architecture that is believed to represent the heaven on earth and the divine order in the Timurid world. It will then turn to the illuminated circular fihrists, which are the reflections of the concepts of garden and paradise in the Timurid understanding of art. Here, the shape characteristics of the fihrists will be emphasized first. Accordingly, the meaning of the preferred circle and square shapes in Islamic thought will be revealed. Then, the iconographic relationship of the fihrists with the image of the garden and paradise will be discussed. Finally, light will be shed on the reason for the existence of vineyard and garden architecture, which is likened to paradise and the "common philosophical origin" of the illuminated circular fihrists, which are the reflections of this kind of architecture in art.

Keywords: History of Islamic Art, Timurid Art and Architecture, Islamic Manuscripts, Fihrist (Table of Contents), Paradise, Gardens.


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CV de 500 signes incluant les informations suivantes: Prénom, nom, titre, fonction, institution

Alpaslan Fener, PhD candidate at Istanbul University, also a palaeographer and codicologist at Süleymaniye Islamic Manuscripts Library, belonging to Manuscripts Institution of Türkiye. Graduated from the History Department at Marmara University. Currently working on Medieval Iran History.



Esra Fener, PhD candidate at Istanbul Technical University and manuscript specialist at Manuscripts Institution of Türkiye. Graduated from the Department of Chemical Engineering at Istanbul Technical University. Currently working on papermaking in the Islamic world.


Résumé / Abstract