عنوان مقاله [English]
The Great Mosque of Cordoba has the world’s oldest continuously planted Islamic garden. Although its presence in a mosque courtyard would seem to confirm its significance as a symbol for “paradise on earth”, the theological authorities of the 9th through 11th centuries did not regard it as such. The paper explores the water management systems that supplied the Mosque’s courtyard of trees and the surrounding landscape. The same mechanisms and knowledge that made the agricultural landscape productive also made gardens flourish. The modern world tends to make a clear division between science (agriculture and hydraulics) and art (gardens and fountains), but landscape history tests this division because gardens require knowledge and an appreciation of beauty and form, but they also require an understanding of science, especially of how to collect water and make it flow to the places where it is needed. The paper traces connections between science, pleasure, the hydraulic landscape, and architecture to explain the presence of the trees in the Mosque of Cordoba. And claims that the garden in the courtyard of the Mosque of Cordoba does not signify representation of paradise on earth. In addition to the religious meaning of the garden as a reflection of paradise on earth, a meaning shared with other gardens across the Islamic world, gardens could provide pleasure, represent wealth, intrigue the mind, and express in microcosm the beauty of the environment as a whole. We have already seen that even at the Mosque of Cordoba, where the religious scholars frowned on the presence of trees in the courtyard as a distraction from prayer and clearly did not interpret the garden as a reflection of paradise, the fruit had an economic function as a form of payment. And the trees--even today--provide welcome shade in Spain’s hot climate. Therefore running counter to the popular conception of the Islamic garden as a mirror of paradise, we see in the Great Mosque of Cordoba an example of a garden that the theological experts did not interpret as a foretaste of the rewards that await the faithful. To the contrary, they saw it as inappropriate for a mosque, even though historical accounts attest that many mosques around theMediterranean were indeed planted with trees. Alternative explanations for the presence of the trees are that they provided shade, provided a salary for the mosque’s custodian, and lastly, that the trees were a sign and a celebration of the presence of water, a technological feat of hydraulic planning that reflected the ingenuity of Muslims of al-Andalus and of which Cordoba was justifiably proud.