With regard to garden design, I’m a great believer in the importance of beliefs – and used the word in the titles a book on the history of Asian gardens. Neil MacGregor’s Radio 4 series on Living with the Gods is therefore of great interest to me.
In the first episode MacGregor discusses is the Lion Man. This 40,000 year old figurine is interpreted as a representation of man’s relationship with the natural world – which is one of the grand themes in the history of garden design. A question for me is whether the Lion Man was made by nomads or whether it was made by a holy man who settled near a cave and a place where he could live without being nomadic.
In the second episode, on Fire and State MacGregor focuses ‘on sacred fire which comes to represent the state itself’. He discusses the perpetual fire tended by the Vestal Virgins below the Palatine Hill in Rome, which is in our Garden Finder, and also the Parsi fire temple in Udvada, India, and ‘la Flamme de la Nation’ beneath the Arc de Triomphe in Paris’.