The Landscape Guide

Asian Garden History

This webpage provides an online companion guide for Tom Turner's history of Asian Gardens: history belief and design ISBN: 978-0-415-49687-2  was published in March 2010, by Spon/Routledge. It has a similar format to Tom Turner's Garden history philosophy and design 2000 BC to 2000 AD  from the same publisher, and to  European Gardens, published in 2011. A book on British garden history was published in 2013:

Tom Turner, Asian gardens 3000 BCE to 2000 CE London:Routledge 2010  ISBN: 978-0-415-49687-2

CONTENTS: Asian Garden History


The oldest known gardens were made in West Asia. According to the creation myths of Mesopotamia and Egypt, the world began in watery darkness. The gods then made land, light and life – and were honoured in sanctuaries comprising mounds, pools, plants, buildings and terraces. These were the earliest symbolic landscapes and their components, with the sky, remain the compositional elements of garden and landscape design. In the millennia after 3000 BCE, great gardens were made on the fringes of Central Asia. The origins of garden design as a fine art lie in religious beliefs about the nature of the world and man's place in nature.

Chapter 1 Religion, Faith, Beliefs and Gardens in Asia

Part 1 West Asian Gardens: Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Arabia

Chapter 2 Polytheist Gardens in Asia

Horticulture began c10,000 BCE and the first aesthetically designed gardens known to history were made under the influence of polytheism in West Asia (c3,000BCE). The modern names of the countries in which these gardens were made are Iraq and  Egypt.  By 500 BCE aesthetically designed gardens were also being made in Iran.
Babylon Eridu Ur Uruk  Nineveh Khiva Garden of Eden Domain of Amun Luxor  Amarna Medinet Habu Sennufer’s garden Karnak Mycenae  Pasargadae Persepolis Naqsh-e Rustam Firouzabad Bishapur Ctesiphon

Chapter 3 Islamic Gardens in West Asia, Spain, Central Asia and India 

Islam became the dominant faith in West Asia and, like Christianity in Europe, suppressed polytheism and destroyed polytheist gardens. Both Islam and Christianity went on to develop highly refined styles of garden design which drew on polytheist precedents.

Great Palace Constantinople  Umayyad Mosque Damascus  Khirbat al-Mafjar  Balkuwara Palace Abu Dulaf Mosque  Madinat al-Zahra Alhambra Sikandra Timur’s Palace Shahr-e Sabz Afrasiab  Uleg Beg Madrassah   Madrasah Chahar Bagh  Bagh Doulatabad Bagh-eFin Bagh-e Babur Ram Bagh Lotus Garden Dholpur Purana Quila Humayun’s Tomb Mausoleum of Ismael Samani  Fatehpur Sikri Taj Mahal Agra Fort   Red Fort  Shalimar Bagh Nishat Bagh Achabal  Itmad ud Daula Mandu  Kaliadeh Palace  Bundi   Deeg Islamnagar Sahelion-Ki-Bari Amber Palace Orchha Topkapi palace

Part 2 South Asian Gardens: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, SE Asia

Chapter 4 Hindu Gardens in Ancient India and other parts of Asia

The origins of civilization in the Indus Valley are uncertain but may be West Asian. Hindu civilization developed in Central Asia and brought a reverence for natural landscape to the plains of North India. There are no physical survivals from ancient Hindu times but enough is known of their character to conclude that India had a wonderful garden tradition.
Harappa Mohenjo Daro  Ayodhya Ajanta Sanchi Sisupalgarh Orchha Khajuraho

Chapter 5 Buddhist Gardens in India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand

Buddhism developed in the foothills of the Himalayas and appears to have drawn on both Hindu traditions and on the Bon religion of Tibet. Gardens and parks have a central place in Buddhist culture and became the world religion with the most extensive influence on garden design.

Jokhang Temple and Potala  Kapilavastu  Lumbini Sarnath (Isipatana)Bodh Gaya, KushinagarJetavana Anuradhapura Pataliputra Udaigiri Ajanta Amaravati Sigiriya Borobadur Angkor Wat Wat Chet Yot Ananda Swayambhunath

Part 3 East Asian Gardens: China and Japan

Chapter 6 Daoist and Buddhist Gardens in China

China is said to have a garden design tradition reaching back 5,000 years but the ancient examples were vast Daoist-inspired tracts of natural landscape, which we would call parks. The intricate and excellent town gardens we now view as classically Chinese were made after Buddhism became significant in China.

Pingyao Qin Shi Huang Tomb  Tiger Hill Banpo Huashan Lion Grove  Forbidden City Taishan Chengde Temple of Heaven Altar of Grain  Changan  Luoyang  White Horse Monastery   Longmen  Huaqing Palace Hangzhou West Lake Beihai Park  Jingshan Hill   Humble Administrator’s Garden  Chengde Yuanming Yuan   Master of the Nets  Surging Waves Pavilion (Cang Lang Ting Yuan)  Lingering garden (Liu Yuan)  Grand View Garden (Daguanyuan) Prince Gong's Garden

Chapter 7 Shinto and Buddhist gardens in Japan

The earliest sacred places in Japan were inspired by Shinto, which has similarities with Daoism. Shinto continues to influence Japanese gardens as do the lost Buddhist gardens of Tang and Song Dynasty China.

Kongobuji Temple Ise Jingu  Itsukushima Shrine  Nara    Heian Palace Garden in Nara  Todaiji Temple  Heian Shrine  Kyoto Imperial Palace    Shinsen-en  Horyu-ji  Motsu-ji   Joruri-ji  Byodo-in   Daikakuji Temple  Osawa Pond  Enkakuji Temple  Ginkaku-ji  Saiho-ji Tenryu-ji   Kinkaku-ji  Kodai-ji  Ryoanji  Kyoto Gosho  Shosei-en  Katsura Sento Gosho  Shugakin  Koishikawa Korakuen  Rikugien Garden  Konchi-in  Daitoku-ji  Kiyosumi   Kyu Iwasaki-tei   Old Furukawa  Murin-an

Part 4 Modern Asian Gardens: Russia, Middle East, India, China, Japan, etc

Chapter 8 International Modern Gardens in Asia

International Modernism became the dominant influence on gardens throughout Asia in the twentieth century. ‘This produced an abstract style of garden design, a few masterpieces and a great many dull and “soulless” places’. Happily, there are signs that the sun is setting on this phase of Asian garden design and landscape architecture.

Asian Garden History - West Asia, India, China, Japan and South East Asia (Image

Indian Garden History, including Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal (image

Chinese and Japanese garden history (image

West Asian Garden History: Iran, Turkey, Egypt and the Gulf (image

The Ananda Buddhist 'temple mountain' in Myanmar

The Lion Grove Garden in Suzhou, China

Japanese garden in winter

Modern landscape architecture in Japan Shinjuku Towers, Tokyo