“Nazargah”, the main element of Persian garden in the illustration of the gar dens in Persian paintings

Document Type : Research Article



Garden and gardening convey wide range of meanings in Iranian culture so that the Iranian world is full of the manifestation of gardens and nature. Persian garden can be deemed as the most admirable outcome of aesthetic and naturalistic principles of Iranian culture, which can be traced in variety of Iranian arts such as pottery, tile work, carpet, music, poetry, literature and Persian miniature. Among these, the art of miniature is one of the main arenas for multiple imaging of Persian Garden. Miniature has been the subject of several surveys. There are many research works on fine art in which the miniature works have been examined in different fields such as aesthetic, technical, historical ones from the art of painting viewpoint. What differentiates the present study is that it approaches the art of miniature and Persian garden from the Iranian landscape architectural standpoint. Given the paucity of similar works in this field, studies like this may have considerable potential in proposing novel theories pertinent with miniature works that picture Persian garden. This also helps improving our knowledge of Persian garden in different historical periods. Miniature works constitute a notable portion of historical documents and visual sources. Knowing that the subject of the works is based on the observations of the artist, these works cannot be isolated from the realities of their environment at the time of creation. However, there are other factors to take into account including natural limitation of painting work, prevailing style at the time, and the artist’s attitudes. Thus, to achieve better results through the survey of the relationship between Persian garden and miniature, some of the pertinent miniature works were needed to be examined along with library research. In majority of miniature of indoor design of houses, castles, and mansions, the main object in the work is the building and notable persons. These works are easily notable and differentiable from the miniature of outdoor spaces and those that picture a garden in particular. A common element in majority of miniature of outdoor spaces is the Nazargah, which plays the main and an outstanding role. The present study assumes that picturing the general design of the garden and the key geometric features of the structure were not the intention of the artist, so copying the actual design of the garden was the last intention of the artist. In fact, by picturing pavilion and Ivan– as the main elements in Persian garden, the artist has tried to employ external and internal landscapes of the garden to create a different and with more details picture of Persian garden. The purpose of this article is to identify the main manifestation of Persian garden in the miniatures with pertinent subject. To achieve this, some of miniature works from different historical periods have been examined (to avoid one-dimensional approach of a specific period). Trivial changes in the concept and design of Persian garden cause no problem in surveying the miniature works from different periods as the concept and image of Persian garden have survived the ups and downs of ages. The question raised by this study is “what is the most outstanding and noticeable elements of Persian garden in the miniatures of garden?” To answer this, the environment, nature, and garden in the miniatures were first assumed as the bases of the study. Afterward, by analyzing 10 miniatures and comparing the results with library resources and documents (descriptive-analytical method) different manifestation of Persian gardens in the miniatures were divided into three; 1- Pavilion garden, 2- Bagh Chador/ tent garden, and 3- pavilion (as the viewpoint of the garden to external landscape). Gardens design has been always featured with palaces, pavilion and Ivan so that the design, shape, and location of pools, water display, and Sofe at the entrance were based on these main elements. Furthermore, these elements are the key elements in the miniature works of Persian gardens. The design of pavilion has been always a mixture of open spaces with several balconies at different directions to permit use of the open space. The pool or water display and other natural elements were the main elements viewed from the pavilion. Although the geometric symmetry of the garden are absent in the miniature, still the presence of the main element (i.e. pavilion, which have the best view in the garden) argues that the aim of the artist was to picture Persian garden; this is an answer to the question of the study. In this regard, among the all elements of Persian garden such as water, plants, human, etc., the most featured elements are the structures designed to enjoy the view such as pavilion, Ivan, Sofe, tent, and so on (in general term “Nazargah”). This supports the hypothesis of the study which states “Nazargah as the main pictured elements in the miniature of Persian garden.”