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Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain

D. Fairchild Ruggles



11×8.5in • 28×21.6cm

264 pages

index included

ISBNs: 0271022477 • 9780271022475

Pennsylvania State University Press • 2003

      Gardens, Landscape, and Vision in the Palaces of Islamic Spain offers a new interpretation of the history of gardens in Spain during the period of Islamic rule from the eighth through the fifteenth centuries. Islamic gardens, with their cultivated garden beds and water channels, are traditionally regarded as an early reflection of paradise, which the Koran describes as a "garden watered by four streams." However, D. Fairchild Ruggles argues that the early palace garden was primarily an environmental, economic, and political construct, and that paradisiac symbolism did not develop until gardens acquired tombs.
      D. Fairchild Ruggles discusses three aspects of medieval Islamic Spain: the landscape and agricultural transformation as documented in the Arabic scientific literature and geographies, the typological formation of the garden and its symbolic meaning in the eighth through the tenth centuries, and the role of vision and the frame in the spatial apparatus of sovereignty through the fifteenth century.
      Ruggles explains that, while the repertoire of architectural and garden forms was largely unchanged from the tenth through the fifteenth centuries, their meaning changed dramatically. The royal palace gardens of Cordoba expressed a political ideology that placed the king above and at the center of the garden and, metaphorically, his kingdom. While this conception of the world began to falter in later centuries, the patrons of architecture still clung to the forms and motifs of the earlier golden age. In Granada, instead of creating new forms, artists at the Alhambra reworked and refined familiar vocabulary and materials; the vistas fixed by windows and pavilions referred not to the actual relationship of the king to his domain but rather to the memory of an expanding territory.

D. Fairchild Ruggles is Associate Professor in Landscape History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the editor of Women, Patronage, and Self-Representation in Islamic Societies (SUNY, forthcoming).

Pennsylvania State University Press

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