Charbagh or Chahar Bagh (Persian: چهارباغ, chahār bāgh, "Four Bāghs") is a Persian-style garden layout. The quadrilateral garden is divided by walkways or flowing water into four smaller parts. In Persian, "Chār" means 'four' and "bāgh" means 'garden'.
One of the hallmarks of Islamic gardens is the four-part garden laid out with axial paths that intersect at the garden's centre. This highly structured geometrical scheme, called the chahar bagh, became a powerful metaphor for the organization and domestication of the landscape, itself a symbol of political territory.
The Chahrbagh-e Abbasi (or Charbagh Avenue) in Isfahan, Iran, built by Shah Abbas the Great in 1596, and the garden of the Taj Mahal in India are the most famous examples of this style. In the Charbagh at the Taj Mahal, each of the four parts contains sixteen flower beds.
Chahrbagh originated from the time of Achaemenid Persia. Greek historians, such as Herodotus and Xenophon, give extensive accounts of Cyrus the Great's palatial city of Pasargadae and his four-gardens.
In India, the Char Bagh concept in imperial mausoleums is seen in Humayun's Tomb in Delhi monumental scale. The tradition of paradise garden originated among the Mughals which is found at Babur's tomb, Bagh-e Babur, in Kabul, a tradition which gave birth to the Mughal gardens design and displayed its high form in the Taj Mahal was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, as a tomb for his favourite wife Mumtaz Mahal, in Agra, India. Here, unlike most such tombs, the mausoleum is not located in the centre of the garden, but on its northern end. The garden features Italian cypress trees (Cupressus sempervirens). The cypress trees symbolize death. Fruit trees in the garden symbolize life. The garden attracts many birds, which are considered one of the features of the garden.
A charbagh garden is located on the roof top of the Ismaili Centre in South Kensington, London. The Delegation of the Ismaili Imamat, located on Sussex Drive in the Canadian capital Ottawa, Ontario contains a charbagh garden in a uniquely modern setting.
- Cornell, Vincent J. (2007) Voices of Islam: Voices of art, beauty, and science (volume 4 in the Voices of Islam series) Praeger, Westport, Connecticut, pages 94-95, ISBN 978-0-275-98735-0
- D. Fairchild Ruggles, Islamic Gardens and Landscapes, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008, p.39
- History of Persian Garden Design
- Mughul Tomb GardensThe poetics of gardens, by Charles Willard Moore, William J. Mitchell. Published by MIT Press, 2000. ISBN 0-262-63153-9. Page 17.
- A Place in Paradise - radio coverage from the BBC about the charbagh garden on top of the Ismaili Centre in South Kensington
- Lehrman, Jonas Benzion (1980). Earthly paradise: garden and courtyard in Islam. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-04363-4.
- Ruggles, D. Fairchild (2008). Islamic Gardens and Landscapes. University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-4025-1.
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