When everything starts with Chahar Bagh

The ancient metaphor of a “villa” is consisting of the characteristical combination of three basic components: 1. the space / nature / world / cosmos, 2. the garden / microcosmos, 3. the cave  /  tent / building / block / kushk.



Article by Hosna Pourhashemi
Bibliography by Amirabbas Aboutalebi

When everything starts with Chahar Bagh



The history of villa begins with the Garden of Eden, the first dwelling place of man, the home of Adam as a representative of the first settled people in the history of civilization. The paradigm of the Garden of Eden has been considered as a paradisiacal garden archetype in different cultures and developed further throughout the course of Western architecture. The idea of a world divided into four parts is generated in this legend (Genesis 2: 8-10) symbolized in the "Chahar Bagh” pattern language of the Persian garden archetype. 


The Persian garden concept of Chahar Bagh can be defined as the oldest garden language. Analyzing the terminological aspect of Chahar Bagh, which consists of two words “Chahar” means “four" and “bagh” means in Old Persian “god”, showed following: The sacred number “four” is a perfect number with a deep and worldwide symbolic meaning which goes back to the dawn of humanity. Antique Persian word of “baagh" always meant God and used by kings, who claimed themselves as representative of God on the earth. The king placed himself in the center of the world, ordered its four corners in the form of Chahar Bagh, and reenacted the creation in his own way.


One trace in the history of villa is its representation of distinction and furthermore of hierarchy in the society, the early ones can be traced from farmhouses and agricultural gardens to the Egyptian metaphysical monuments; the pyramids and the ziggurat. The early villas express man's determination to place, his mark upon an endless flat surface. A civilized migrated man from the mountain to the plain tried to build the terraced villas to ensure consecutive contact with the Gods. Pyramids and the ziggurat were dedicated to the Gods and recalling the mountain home of the Gods. The terraces of the Hanging Gardens of Semiramis were built between 704–681 BC at Nineveh and the Tachara, the palace of Dariush the Great at Persepolis of the Achaemenid time (550–330 BC) in Shiraz can legitimately be described as the next early villas being described. 


The long-entrenched art historical narrative of the villa, articulated in the nineteenth century by Jacob Burckhart in his foundational work on the culture of early modern Italy of the Renaissance, holds that: “Villa culture, with its emphasis on the appreciation of landscape and villa life, is better understood as an ideological construct, rather than a strict, typological sense and it can be studied as a historical and artistic phenomenon”. Such an account leaves out the world beyond western European Christendom, including the great villas, and villa cultures of Persian antiquity that so inspired the ancient Greeks and Romans (Anderson 2013: 6-7) as well as palace facilities of Moorish traditions.




Two basic types of human manifestation in space can be characterized: tent and cave construction, later developed in Chahar Bagh pattern language in two basic structural models: The “garden as a container” and “garden as courtyard”. In the “garden as a container”, the hidden is in the infinity of space. In this type, the spirit is found within the enclosure wall that separates microcosm from macrocosm and is a means to connect the body with the spirit. The garden as courtyard or contained garden is suited to the urban context. In the inward-looking courtyard, the hidden is contained. Space comes at the center and the place of "hidden treasure" is enclosed by the villa in a similar way that the body of an individual encloses the soul, which, in turn encompasses the spirit (Burkhardt 1967). Where the symbolic essence is stability, the garden becomes a perfect form where a man feels himself within an earthly paradise (Shirvani 1985: 25). 


Chahar Bagh pattern language spreads as the "Paradise garden" throughout the Islamic world westwards in Andalusia to the Roman civilization. Paradise became known under the Latin name "hortus conclusus” (enclosed garden), and in turn inspired much later the many gardens of the Renaissance to the Baroque in France (Girot 2016: 35). This term summarizes the prominent features of the oasian settlement: cultivation as an organizing structure of the land, geometry as a creative act imposed upon the hostile.


The basic program of the villa has remained unchanged since the first civilizations. The paradigm of villa – the individual house in relation to space representing human in the world –makes the villa unique in relation to other architectural archaic types that have changed in form and purpose. But the villa has remained substantially the same. It fills a need that never alters, a need which, because it is not material but psychological and ideological, is not subject to the influence of evolving societies and technologies (Ackerman 1990: 9). Since antiquity, the Villa has been the building type most closely associated with literary production, constant with the ideology of the villa or the contemplative life.




Paradise is one of the primordial myths of the Western Oriental and Occidental world. It is common to many ancient philosophical and spiritual insights and to the religious ideas of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Thus, to this day, the idea is formative for the understanding of the world by the individual and a basic element of the collective unconscious.

Paradise as the ideal villa is the oldest shared concept between different societies over the course of history of humankind. The universal concept of Paradise is transferred by different terms throughout the world. First villas were the idealized image of an oasis, which get its life though the miraculous effect of an irrigation system. The first villas were created to reach the paradise and rest in it in the afterlife. The owner of the early villas perpetuated them by endowing the whole to the Gods. With the rise structured concepts of political and economic order systems and phases of rising stability, gardens not only provided food, but represented spiritual beliefs, the perfection of the universe, abundance, leisure, as well as representation of power and protection.


Villa in the context of Chahar Bagh pattern language can on one hand be considered as a location for the representation of power over the course of history. From the beginning, human claims his garden villa as his own territory by making a permanent imprint on it with artistic means to be perceived as sign of supremacy of its owner, being developed as royal encampments particularly and associated with political power. The systematic use of nature in the concept of the villa was integrated into the ideology of different dynasties and specific to their rule throughout history, in which nature is related to rule and dynastic self-representation.


The historical process of sedentarization and land-grabbing, which over a long period of time has led to new forms of civilization, is linked – on social, political, philosophical and iconographic levels – to the need and necessity to give expression to the fact of land ownership and the demonstration of dominion over the land.


The planning concept of the villas as monuments of power can be defined as visual “accessories”, facilitating a uniform reading of imperial and luxurious symbols. It is the uniform reading of the architectural idiom of each period that has the the most important impact on its sustaining, perpetuating, and legitimizing legacy. Chahar Bagh's concept liberally and sometimes perfunctorily dip into this aesthetic reservoir more to make imperial associations and less to make the structure stylistically unique.


For a long time, the political elite and many of its relevant scholars, elite artists, designers, urbanists, architects, and even landscape architects rarely referred their work to a universal understanding of nature. Starting from ideological and religious ideas of the supremacy of man, as a god-like individual, legitimating exploitation of the world was common. On beginning of twentieth century, the understanding that man is an inseparable part of nature was leading to an idea of fiduciary responsibility. Up to present time the relation of mankind to nature is characterized by its reception as both paradisal and inimical counterpart of man. Initially, ecological attempts were characterized by an aesthetic and largely philosophical perception.


For Wright, the house is an integral part of nature, while for Le Corbusier the house contrasts with it, illustrating man's sublimity over nature. In Wright’s work, garden and outdoor space are seen as cultivated space horticultural and agricultural activity. The formation of space is extroverted and in the respective orthogonal main orientations rather centrifugal. In Le Corbusier's work, the aim is an introverted, centripetal spatial formation that attempts to exclude nature – in the Mediterranean tradition. Le Corbusier presents the concept of the "Immeuble Villas" with inscribed "Jardins suspendus”.


Wright perceives the pattern language of the nature and put into the philosophy of building to inspire and guide architects and laymen long into the future. Patterns not only refer- ring and dealing with elements of landscape as part of nature but referring to life of mankind as part and taking place in nature. The idea of “nature pattern“ as a universal kind of understanding all things and all intellectual and spiritual processes in the world as a unity, expresses the holistic view on the world. When architecture make a deep communion with nature, our spiritual well-being develops. Preserving the nature goes fundamentally about preserving our own humanity, as Wright said: “All values are human values or else not valuable” (Wright 1958).


Kushk as an element in Chahar Bagh pattern language can offer an ideal mythic place not only to restore the spirit but also to rejuvenate it. It can be a meeting place for all elements of the spiritual and material creation. It is a place for personal reflection as well as strengthening family, friendship and community bonds. It is a place, if a person so chooses to reconnect with one’s spiritual self and to take a hiatus from active life to continue a spiritual quest. Villa in this context can awaken the senses with natural pleasures that heal and refurbish the soul, in which the symbolic essence is stability, its space becomes a perfect form where and man can feel himself within an earthly paradise.


The ideology of this paradigm transmitted with expansion of the first social humanity through Noah flood and continues with spreed the cultures and religions through the road systems, especially the most significant trade route “silk road”. From the historical- geographical point of view the western oriental the region of Caucasus, ancient Persia and Mesopotamia was characterized by its specific conditions. The specific location at a hinge-like interface between three continents and the dynamic phenomenon of glaciations and their consequences on constant changes in the civilizational framework led to the formation of independent forms of relationship and understanding of nature and the position of humanity. As depicted in many ancient writings, the processes of civilization shaped by geographic conditions led to multiple questions about man's place in nature and the world, and to pressing issues at the physical, social, philosophical, and political-religious levels on the way to mastering the dramatic living conditions of the time.


Thus, the mythical language of Chahar Bagh derived from the Mithraism and was expanded further through religions, mainly Islam. The myth of paradise kept transmitting over the revealing forest of storytelling trees as the common element in all cultures through Greater Caucasus and Hyrcanian forests. The universal concept of paradise transferred by different terms – the modern one as “hortus conclusus” – in the Orient and Occident. The wars and its concequencies of both reflection and representation of power can be regarded as motor for the garden culture, in particular through the Hellenistic period. The concept became the lingua franca and expanded through the huge, almost unlimited Hellenistic world.


Chahar Bagh pattern language and the idea of representation of paradisian microcosmos, the source of all Persian arts, had a universal influence on carpet designing, painting, miniature, architectural ornaments, calligraphy, gilding, pottery, and ceramics and tile works. The villa is a significant cultural element reflected in poetry, miniature, and carpet design and acts as the transmission mediums of this archetype in the world.


A long tradition of literature celebrated villa's life, design, and decoration in a variety of forms, notably poetry and prose panegyrics, ekphrastic set pieces, letters, dialogues set in villas, architectural treatises, agricultural and husbandry text, and theoretical exercises (Elet 2018: 47). Indeed, literary works have not merely reflected the villa culture of their time but have promoted villa concepts of later times. Major revivals of the villa from the past to the future have been explicitly justified by reference to writing. Each villa revival has been accompanied by a revival of villa literature: many writing examples and other vital moments in villa history were also marked by literature devoted to the design and improvement of western villas. Painting and miniature as well as literature bolster the ideology (Ackerman 1990: 10-13).


 When everything starts with Chahar Bagh


Villa as an independent work of art is a micro-scale of heaven created by the imagination of man on the earth. The villa presents an experimental world, where we can live in the realm of the divine essence although its unity is invisible. Even Our today's villa – as a metaphor – is the place of humanity and society par excellence, it is the physical representation of our inner-side world. Chahar Bagh pattern language is based on the mythical beliefs, images and psychological manifestations that represent the essence of the soul. Therefore, the consciousness remains connected to the instinctive roots of the unconscious. Observing and thinking are basic rational psychological function and active imagination deals with the inner images and fantasies of the villas.


The villa is less fixed in form than most other architectural types because the requirements of leisure lack, clear information, but two contrasting models were firmly established: 1- the compact cubic with inner yards and 2- the open extended which is more congenial to the identification of the natural environment with health and relaxation (Ackerman 1990: 9-13).


The architectural element of Chahar Bagh pattern language follow two patterns. A square plan with two perpendicular axes constitutes the spatial structure of the two buildings, one of which is introverted and the other is extroverted. The footprint of perpendicular axes can be tracked in the spatial structure of Persian architecture, both in micro spaces and in the combination of spaces in a high hierarchy. The first villa pattern – as such in the form of the compact cubic with inner yards – is designed in a simple way that four verandas placed against one yard and as it permits extroversion, it is usually built at the center of garden or land. Therefore the sides are executed regularly and with no imperfections. This pattern, which is one of the most basic patterns of villa, has involved in a wide range of buildings from the peasant to the royal and luxury houses. The most outstanding villa of this type in Europe is represented by the the Palladian Renaissance Villa Rotonda in Vicenza, Italy.


In the courtyard garden, a direct connection to the yard is a vital matter, the connective spaces, the spaces which connect the entrances to the yard and also connect each space to the adjacent space. Although, the connective spaces do not have a significant effect on the yard view, but have the most important effect on evolution and expansion of architectural space patterns.


The design grammar of these patterns develops based on a hierarchical system. The value of the different parts of the patterns arranged around the yard are usually differentiated from low to high importance. The main axis of the yard is dedicated to hierarchically highest space and the adjunct axis is linked to the spaces with an equal or lower importance.


 When everything starts with Chahar Bagh


Based on Wolfgang Teichert (1986), Culture and cult, maintenance and worship come from the same root. Man was associated with both terms of clearing, in which human habitat – the garden – was oasis excluded from the wilderness or the desert. The connection between the words "culture" and "cult", the connection between gardening and religious veneration, suggests a religious necessity rather than an economic necessity for garden creation creation or even representational aspects of political dominance and power. The gardens were always the symbol of culture, a structure that arranged and delimited the chaotic impressions from inside and outside in a horticultural and maintenance manner, also against the wilderness that surrounded the small world garden and which was constantly threatening to collapse.


Every garden is the repetition of creation on a microscopic scale. Whoever creates a garden and arranges a space – be it real in the outside world or imaginative in the inside world – repeats the exemplary work of world creation, which is understood in many mystical stories as a gardening act. This creative act needs clarity, protection, maintenance, and security. That is why, we always come across a fence, rampart or wall. Christian Hirschfeld (1779) described a garden, which is not mere amusement of the external sense, but inner true soothing of the soul, enrichment of the imagination, refinement of the feelings; extension of the district for taste and art; employment of the human spirit of creation with a place, where it was still less effective; refinement of the works of nature and embellishment of an earth that is our dwelling at a time.


From birth, our human physical and spiritual needs have been met in the gardens, also during its development, the matter of structure and the cultural connotation have been tightly connected with each other. The gardens included gently the tangible heritage and the intangible heritage to achieve a perfect harmony. "Among cultural heritage properties, the garden is a unique cultural phenomenon and also is the product of the development of human civilization. The gardens are the cultural products, and also the carrier of the traditional culture. Composed of various material forms, the gardens contain a lot of social and human factors” (Medghalchi, l., et al. 2014).


“The garden is one way for man to leave his imprint on nature, to mold it to delight and beguile the senses. All cultures have sought to adapt nature, selecting its most beautiful and pleasing features, while casting aside those which are troublesome or unpleasant. The garden is, above all, part of man's quest for pleasure, although in many cases it is also imbued with transcendental values. Conceived by and for man, in almost every culture it has formed an indissoluble part of the surroundings of any habitat, in town and country alike. But the garden has been liked to power in a special and intimate way, because in offering joy and pleasure to its owners, it becomes a sign of distinction and authority for those who are in a position to create and maintain them. The garden is as ancient as culture itself” (Almagro 2007: 55). It was present in the earliest civilizations and associated with all the significant beliefs of man. Gardens have always constituted part of the most authentic manifestations of every culture.


“The villa accommodates a fantasy which is impervious to reality: villa culture has thrived since the first cave dweller to Hanging Gardens of Semiramis, to ancient villas to Roman vill’s, to French ville’s to British villas, to Mediterranean culture, to contemporary suburb houses and finally to an unbuilt detached or semi-detached residence in future” (Aboutalebi 2019).




The “garden” can be considered as the central instrument to reflect the understanding of the world respectively the cosmos. In ancient times, gardens, palaces and urban settlements were a reflection of the relation between humans and the context of the world. Villa life can be understood as an attitude and inquires its meaning in the context of the worldwide urbanization process. Today's concept of villa appears to be influenced by Arcadian ideal, a pastoralism vision and in harmony with nature. In contrast to the progressive nature of Utopian desires, our today’s life is more seen as a lost, Edenic form of life.  


Only when villas are understood on several levels, as the product of natural, cultural, and social processes, can atmospheric and living urban spaces appropriate to the specific situation be created. The villa describes in terms of its archetype entails going out into nature, which represents a close relationship between topography, architecture, and infrastructure.


Through the landscape architectural design, the villa can be anchored in its context, in which the dialogue between the urban and the users of the complex will be enhanced. Dieter Kienast (1985) understood the city as the modern nature. This allows us to understand wild and self-reliant nature in combination with the urban artifacts and social processes as an interdependent and finally unintelligible context. The city as unintelligible as nature was for mankind thousands of years ago. Garden takes on a didactic character through its development as an instrument of reflection and practical design in urban space.


The villa can speak to all our classical senses, which have the first exposure and reaction to the landscape. This experience is sensual as well as spiritual. The villa can awaken the senses with natural pleasures that heal and refurbish the soul and is designed to accentuate the pleasure of space within nature. Villa exists on both the most abstract symbolic level and the most direct experiential level simultaneously. Our senses can be swamped by its context and we can experience the sublime.


Today everyone can enjoy villa life: The most radical mutation in the history of the villa occurred in the early nineteenth century when the villa ideology became democratized and accessible to the growing body of lower-middle-class city dwellers (Ackerman 1990: 17). “Today the villa life cannot be understood apart from the city; it exists not to fulfill autonomous functions but to provide a counterbalance to urban values and accommodations, and its economic situation is that of a satellite. The content of villa ideology is rooted in the contrast of country and city” (Aboutalebi 2019).


 When everything starts with Chahar Bagh


Our world today has been formed through ancient civilizations such as myths, rituals, ethics, art, literature, and many other matters which distinguish us from other creatures. The villas can be understood in an evolutionary cultural trend of thousands of years. History is an ineradicable part of our present and future, and not only considered as a story of the past. Human beings are connected to one another by dwelling on the earth; known as a serious effort of humans over generations in an attentive experience of the world, accomplished through dwelling in a place and an awareness development of their location on earth. This can be considered as a way to inscribe the presence of human being in space and time via the creation of villa on the earth, under the heavens.


The geometry of the villa, as the alphabet of this inscription, should not have been speculated other than the man's abstract perception of his surrounding landscape, including the sky. On one hand, Chahar Bagh pattern language is closely related to the human being, his perception, and his attitudes and on the other hand, it has been inspired by its surrounding environment. Chahar Bagh is not merely the abstracted reflection of the human interpretation of nature, it is also a mediator among human beings and nature, or in a wider range known as a mediator between human beings and the cosmos (Assasi 2014: 12-39).


Chahar Bagh pattern language can be seen as a strong social-culture media. The whole complex incorporates the human and the cosmos in a spiritual way to experience the sense of unity. Villa based on this concept is an earthly shadow of paradise that provides a connection with nature. Divine order is reflected in its garden and the focal point is the spatial unity shared between all elements; We and the Universe. In the Chahar Bagh, we experience the sense of harmony and unity. Not only the natural elements incite us to this unity, but also the order of man-made nature and artifacts. Our seeking soul feels as part of the whole and we can transcend the self entirely and enter the inner-world.


“The villa is mentioned as a worthwhile identity or as a messenger art for architecture. The modern man of one hundred years ago had images and ideas for his future life, and with helping of invention, innovations and advanced technological tools quickly reached to his imaginary ideals. The villa has always been an interesting experience that continued even after the emergence of modern cities, from building villas in Rome to modern villas which are made by Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe, Wright, Louis Kahn, even virtual house designed by Farshid Moussavi and Shigeru Ban, Peter Zumthor’s country houses, etc, In fact, villas are a manifestation of humans’ imaginary life in each period” (Aboutalebi 2019).


The villa poses a cultural paradox. Yet the mythical nature of villa ideology liberates the type from mundane restrains of utility and productivity and makes it ideally suited to the creative aspirations of patron and architect. Often this creativity is limited to the sphere of taste, like that of fashion in apparel, which has also been motivated by unchanging mythology since surplus wealth first offered its temptations. But the villa draws our attention because through the centuries’ it has articulated concepts and feelings of different cultures with respect to the dialog between city and country, artifice and nature, formality, and informality (Ackerman 1990: 34).




Chahar Bagh is a continuous language of villa history, which begins with the Garden of Eden and has been evaluated throughout the history. The mythic language of Chahar Bagh is closely linked to the elementary mythical stories, to the oldest stories of the first socialized human beings symbolized as Adam and Eva, who were forced to refuge from the heaven to the earth. The symbolic and mythic language of the eternal paradise has been told to the next generation orally, which has been firstly recorded in the Epic of Gilgamesh in 3rd millennium BC about the description of civic date palm gardens at Uruk. Fundamentally, the Chahar Bagh garden myth was transmitted through the poets which skillfully interleaved the material of many different beliefs and religions.


The mythic language of Chahar Bagh is the story of the Gods, the story of the creation the world from chaos and darkness, the symbolic account of the beginning of the world, the fundamental elements in the life, the religious account of the eternal paradise, the exemplary deeds of the Gods as a result of which the world, nature, and culture were created together with all parts thereof and given their order, which still obtains. This paradisiacal garden myth expresses society's religious values and norms throughout the history and provides a pattern to be imitated, and testifies to the efficacy of ritual with its practical ends. Chahar Bagh garden concept can be used to legitimize a consciously created order and offers a holistic world view.


Chahar Bagh garden language can be considered a social phenomenon, a structured system that can be viewed synchronically, as it exists at any particular time, and diachronically, as it changes in the course of time. The formal structure of this language can explain the understanding of the uniquity of garden language and human perception. Through Chahar Bagh our senses first awake with the departure from the sensory focus within its natural environment and we enter into an entirely new world of the symbolic mind. This transformation into open-ended syntax and active imagination can be experienced as an awakening to the sacred.


Moreover, Chahar Bagh is defined as a signifying system for villa culture in which the units are elements, and the rules are the features and like design grammar orders the elements. Chahar Bagh emerges the image of paradise in our mind, which we are inherited it from our primary ancestors and achieve the deepest level of perception. Chahar Bagh can be considered as the universal conceptual system for villa culture, which follow the three mentioned properties; Wholeness, Transformation, and Self-Regulation.


Based on Ferdinand de Saussure’s theory, the fundamental elements of Chahar Bagh garden language can be regarded as signs. In Chahar Bagh system, each word or each linguistic sign is composed of a conceptual image, related to each other. They are distinguished as signifier (abstract image of a sensible form) and signified (idea or concept), and together make up the sign set. The relationship between the signs and the universe is actually done through the signification. The second characteristic of the “sign" is that the signifier exists in "time", and that time can be measured as "linear". The Chahar Bagh garden language operates as a linear sequence in garden culture, and that all its elements of a particular sequence form a chain. Moreover, Chahar Bagh garden language is a separate and independent set of reality which can survive independently through the relationship between the signifier and the signified. Chahar Bagh is formed in a way that its language use manifests itself in its integrity, that is language generalization. Linguistic signs play symbolic functions in Chahar Bagh system based on convergence and distinctions along with the other signs. The most important relation between signifiers in this system, the relation that creates "Value", is the idea of “differences”. “Value” is the collective meaning assigned to signs, to the connections between Signifier and Signified.


Intimate engagement with nature is signified by a site and design that permit the villa to nestle and to extend out into surroundings, by asymmetrical and open design, colors reflecting the setting, and natural and varied textures. Distancing from the setting, on the other hand, is signified by a compact form, cubic in outline, often with a podium or similar device to elevate the living quarters off the earth, studied proportions, and the emphasis on plane surface of white or of light color which disguise the nature of the materials (Ackerman 1990: 30). “Villa is a medium of architect’s manifesto that represents an ethical and aesthetic environment with natural origins, function, and form” (Aboutalebi 2019).




Language is based on the ability of humans to think and define terms through the observation and recognition of structures and patterns in nature. It is the basis and condition for the forma- tion of consciousness and perception of the world. As the expressions of spoken language with its understanding’s conventions, the pattern language of garden has developed universally means by culturally related characteristics. Like the syntactical structure of language, the elements of villa as pattern-like language can be identified. The specially and symbolically basic distinction between background or context as symbol of the world and static or dynamic elements of the foreground can be set in relation to the elements of the syntactical elements of spoken or written sentences. In the Chahar Bagh the elements of the garden are set in relation to each other in a way that we through our experiences, be able to perceive step by step their cosmological meaning. As in a literary sentence, in a poem or in a piece of music, accompaniment and identifiable themes, and melodies are forming a continuous process of perception.


Based on historical plans in Topkapi Scroll, it can be resulted that the scrolls were commonly used by architects until the end of Qajar dynasty (1779-1924 AD), in which they attached the plans together in between the ornamental figures randomly. In Chahar Bagh pattern language, two patterns of the connections of a building to garden can be considered: Extroverted and Introverted pattern. The Chahar Bagh pattern language in a mythic and symbolic way represents and reflects the cosmos and universe in its each element, as well as in each discipline. Each design elements of Chahar Bagh have a symbolism that interact strongly with our unconsciousness and psyche. The symbols in Chahar Bagh garden language invents archetypal forces that have direct access to the soul level of primal experiences of human beings. Man from all cultures unconsciously understand the flower, the tree and the garden as symbols of himself. In psychotherapy the nature motives are used and work with symbolic imaginations as a diagnostic or psychotherapeutic tool.


The pattern language of nature can be traced in the works of Western modern architects under “organic architecture”. Organic architecture strive for harmony between building and landscape, a form that is "organically" developed from its function in accordance with the building materials, and a biological, psychological and social functionality of architecture. This attitude of coexistence with nature challenged the Western worldview predominant since the Greeks, the mastery over the nature. A good example is the works of Wright. He stated that “The ideal of an organic architecture ... is a sentient, rational building that would owe its “style” to the integrity with which it was individually fashioned to serve its particular purpose – a “thinking” as well as “feeling” process” (Wright 1914). Wright looked to nature as a model and his design vocabulary was the nature pattern. His school is the nature. He defined his design disciplines based on his perception of pattern language of nature.


Chahar Bagh pattern language for garden culture offers collective cultural sensitive healing wisdom transmitted down through the centuries. Through use of this wisdom, a person can proceed towards a transformed mentality and obtain a deeper self-treatment – heart-based mindfulness treatment – more positive character traits and courage in order to work for the improvement of himself and further on the society. Chahar Bagh pattern language is based on the mythical beliefs, images, and psychological manifestations that represent the essence of the soul. Therefore, the consciousness remains connected to the instinctive roots of the unconscious. Observing and thinking are basic rational psychological function and active imagination deals with the inner images and fantasies of the gardens.


When everything starts with Chahar Bagh 


Chahar Bagh as representation and image of the world has to be seen as integrated part of the corresponding ideas of Cosmos. The complex experience of man, living on the surface of the world, experiencing and observing the sky and the ground leads to an image of three basic spheres: the landscape with its horizon, the sky with its astronomic and atmospheric phenomenas and the ground formed by its geology, flora and fauna.


Through nature man has been putting himself in the center of the world. The processes of life in the world can only be understood to a limited extent and the most processes of the world are not predictable, it is inevitable for man to seek a higher order which helps to transform all the processes of the world into an understandable, coherent logic. This can be taken as the origin of cosmological explanatory systems, such as Chahar Bagh.


The design philosophy of Chahar Bagh is based on Sufi tradition. The architectural conception of Chahar Bagh reflects the “sense of place” which represents a macrocosm and microcosm within itself. “The garden being viewed as a defined space encompassing within itself a total reflection of the cosmos. This concept, which fosters order and harmony, may be manifested to the senses through numbers, geometry, color, and matter; at the same time, it reflects for the intellect, the essence, the hidden dimension and latent in positive space” (Ardalan & Bakhtiar 1973: 68).


Through a holistic approach to nature, Chahar Bagh concept is developed in a close relation with the context and becomes perceptible in its connection. By carefully interpreting the setting of this facility, the reference to the context becomes part of a differentiated view of the inner and outer world. A more open formulation of the demarcation between the inner world and the outer world of an installation influences the perception of both parts, the context and the installation within. A stricter accentuation of the inner world emphasizes the importance and the relation of the individual to man’s conception of the world.


One of the more utopian settings for conversations of “Architectural Inventions” is the villa (Brothers 2008: 12). Humans have always been collecting natural elements of nature such as water, plants, trees, shelter, by his primitive essence and needs. To fulfill villa’s ideological mission, it must interact in some way with the natural context with two types of interaction: 1- a foil to the natural environment in polar opposition 2- a collaboration with the landscape; integrating and embracing to the natural colors and textures (Ackerman 1990: 22). “In addition to the architecture of building, the architecture of water, planting, sound, light and shadow is devised. This only occurs when soft spaces such as plants, water, sky, and light are composed alongside hard spaces” (Aboutalebi 2019).




In Persian culture the ultimate purpose of building a villa is to achieve the harmony between man and nature. Chahar Bagh represents the harmony between the physical world and the spiritual world in a symbolic movement. Each element in Chahar Bagh complement the figures of the universe in a symbolic way. Chahar Bagh pattern language engages the four spheres of our life: physical, intellectual, spiritual, and emotional, to develop our interaction between man and nature, and reach the unity with God. The combination of physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional perceptions ensure the wholistic perception of Chahar Bagh, in which we are considered part of the universe. Through empirical and emotional experience in Chahar Bagh not only on the conscious but also on the unconscious level we can accomplish the sense of unity. The wholistic perception in Chahar Bagh pattern language can be reached on seven different stages, like seven stages of ego development in Sufi tradition.


“There is nothing more timely today than that truth which is timeless, than the message that comes from tradition and is relevant now because it has been relevant at all times. Such a message belongs to a now which has been, is, and will ever be present. To speak of tradition is to speak of immutable principles of heavenly origin and of their application to different moments of time and space. It is also to speak of the continuity of certain doctrines and of the sacred forms which are the means whereby these doctrines are conveyed to men and whereby the teachings of the tradition are actualized with men” (Nasr 1973: xi). This quotation of Seyyed H. Nasr is expressing the continuity, repetition, universality of life and the responsibility of man towards life and the world.


The psychological healing dimension of Chahar Bagh pattern language can be described through C.G. Jung and his theories. In Chahar Bagh our exterior garden can be understood as a symbol of our inner garden, which means the true paradise lies in our inner-side; our heart. In Chahar Bagh, our inner opposites are balanced, the access to our unconscious is facilitated, and our conscious and unconscious are confronted; the integration process in our psyche happens. The contact between our inner balance and the soul of Chahar Bagh garden purify not only our body, but also our mind and spirit. Chahar Bagh can be understood as an archetype of wholeness, which connects the transcendent with the psychic archetypes, and guide our individual psyche towards wholeness, and therefore towards health. In Chahar Bagh, we become aware of our spiritual wholeness in our innermost being; essentialism (beingness) changes to holism (wholeness).


In four book of architecture (1570), the second book of which was devoted to domestic architecture, Andrea Palladio discussed Villa establishments in terms of a tripartite purpose: agricultural production and improvement, affording exercise on foot and horseback to maintain the owner’s health, and sustaining the owner in private, inwardly directed activities: A Villa, is quasi a lodge, for the sake of a garden, to retire, to enjoy and sleep, without the pretense of entertainment of many persons; and yet in this age, the humor takes after that, and no the other. Then the villa was a family space, a social space, and a site of recreation, but not yet an especially private space.


The Villa was a site “where the mind, fatigued by the agitations of the city, will be greatly restored and comforted, and be able quietly to attend the studies of letters, and contemplation”, and where, unlike in “city houses” one “could easily attain to as much happiness as can be attained here below” (Archer 2005: 45 & 90).





 When everything starts with Chahar Bagh





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