Garden Party

It’s probably not worth mentioning. I know how busy your evenings are during the holiday season. But if, one day, you find yourself without a planned engagement, by choice or circumstance, come with me. We’ll wander through the perfumed labyrinths of Persian gardens. I have to warn you, though. There’s trouble in paradise.

Rosette ca.1550; Fractal Florals; Zuhair Murad
Handmade items to buy: (clockwise) Necklace by Rutha; Earrings by Maria Tina Carter; Ring by Sasa Blackoff; Earrings by Liz Kaprow; Ring by Fifth Heaven; Necklace by Simone Bijoux; Earrings by Cadi; Necklace by Puryst

Cypress, willow, and poplar are too busy vying with each other for a taste of the stars to notice us at their feet, walking towards the stone wall that surpasses their efforts. Zephyr greets us at the gate with a goblet of dewey wine – no, thanks, not for me, but you go ahead – and breezes past, leaving the traces of Eros on our pale, still-fresh skin. Look, there’s narcissus dipping his sickly yellow limbs in that turquoise-tiled basin. Be wary of his easy, inviting eyes. I indulged his convoluted monologues for too long last time and he drained me with his bloodthirsty languidity. But what can one do with a tyrant who appears so oppressed by his own self-absorption. Besides, how can one remain concealed in the corner of good health while he’s telling you secrets of intoxication, though I don’t know what we’d do without clover, always cleaning up spilled words that would leave a lasting stain tomorrow morning.

Rosette ca.1550; Zuhair Murad; Falling Garden
Handmade items to buy: (clockwise) Earrings by Ayala Vitkon; Ring by A Bunny And Bear; Ring by Poppy Porter; Scarf by Klara; Earrings by Galit Barak; Purse by Razolly; Ring by Pleiades Romance; Earrings by Alana Little

Steady, now, stick to the limestone channels forging a straight path to the portico that opens up directly from the palace. There, you can already make out the moonlit ringlets of the Zephyr as he wraps around the rose, enthroned. He’s not trying to seduce the king, already a deep crimson, but make the hyacinth jealous. It’s a sad story, really. Even after escaping Apollo’s wrath for delivering the fatal blow to the Spartan prince, who now has his lilac tresses mussed by the dawn breeze, the Zephr burns with desperate desire while doing Eros’ bidding. Hyacinth holds him enchained by madness, and, oblivious to his advances, twists his curly locks around the white jasmine. The tulip, the king’s companion, sits beside the throne with cheeks washed in passion’s blood. She measures out wine and offers it, in vain, to the violet, bowing her head until it darkens to black and blue. Let me take that from you, tulip. Here, take one last sip so we can leave before the nightingale dampens the mood with its longing song.

note: the imagery and phrasing is partly based on ancient Persian poems, which you can find in this book.

Woven Blossoms

There were flower-carpets and fresh rosebuds,
The wind fanned the lamps of the roses,
The violet braided her locks,
The buds tied a knot in the heart.
– Emperor Jahangir (1569-1627)

Conversation and #6 by Faig Ahmed
Handmade items to buy: Scarf and Pillows by Zaipur; Fiber Sculpture by Karen Meninno; Kantha Quilt by Federal Exports; Necklace by Gilgulim; Kantha Quilt by Indian Home Textiles; Bedsheet by Jaisalmer Handloom; Earrings by Ada Rosman

900 knots per square inch on a silk foundation allows you to paint with thread. Weavers of Indian pashmina carpets could create a wide range of colors with tight knots of different colors, or juxtapose shades of the same color to create the effect of shading. The elaborate lattice and blossom patterns realized gardens of fantastical lushness, dense bouquets of the most luxurious fabric made in northern India.

Scent holder by David Wiseman; Scarf by Swash
Handmade items to buy: Necklace by Catrinel; Scarf by Atelier Florine; Wallet Organizer by Lola Falk Designs; Earrings by Ashdel; Pillow by Ginette Pearson; Necklace by Julia Donaldson; Ring by Audra Zili; Cushion by Foutu Tissu

Cross cultural pollination was woven into the fibers of these blossoms. They date back to the mid 17th century, right around the time when European trading companies were starting to establish their presence in the Asian spice and textile market. If the carpets look like tapestries, that’s because the weavers probably saw some examples from a merchant or Jesuit. In one of the carpets, there’s a little Chinese-style cloud, suggesting that Indian textile art used ideas from East and West – a true crossroads of design.

Second Paradise

India may be called a second Paradise for whosoever quits this garden, suffers from remorse.
– Kalim (1581-1651)

• Decorative arts and architecture from Mughal India – like this floral motif and imperial horse – was a visual dialogue between Islamic Iran, Hindu India, and Europe. The complex patterns of arabesques and floral motifs found their way into temples, private rooms, and calligraphy scrolls.

• The Vivienne Westwood Spring 2014 Menswear Collection paired intricate Indian-inspired prints with plain linen.

• This Red Kantha Quilt and Orange Kantha Quilt by Federal Exports are made from three layers of recycled sarees by artisans in Rajasthan.

• Jodi’s Bracelet alternates pieces of coral with silver Bali beads.

• Karin van Rijn’s Cuff is made of a coral and turquoise jacquard ribbon encrusted with crystals.

• Zaipur’s Pillows are made from vintage cotton saris in vibrant orange and turquoise patterns.

• Brooke Melko’s Earrings suspend pink riverstone beads and honey-colored Czech glass from ornate brass discs.

• Oceanus’ Earrings are deep coral droplets attached to gold ear wires.

• Jaisalmer Handloom’s Kantha Quilt is made by a small collective of artists in the Thar Desert.