The garden of earthly deligths

St. Augustine said, more or less, that we know about the Garden of Eden (paradise) because our soul has been there before.Here, on earth, we retain a vague, yet sweet memory of this enchanted kingdom and an eternal longing to return.

Plato, long before Augustine, had more or less the same intuition: with different words he explains that we strive towards the idea of a perfect garden because we have seen a pale reflection of it on the wall of the famous cave…

This is probably why we feel so happy in a handsome, well-proportioned garden. A lot of planning and industry go into creating a feeling of effortless harmony, pleasing to the eyes and the soul.

The Garden of Earthly Delight – ddoo-collective’s Indian-inspired prints – try to capture, for me, the beautiful floral patterns and geometric structure of Indian gardens as they appear in numerous miniatures of the Mughal period, inlayed floors and walls in India, shawls, textiles and carpets.

Silk kimono Indian print "spring" and printed silk pareo shorts both from the ddoo collective "The garden of earthly delights" collection.

Before going to India, I read “Delhi”, a marvellous book by Kushworth Singh.

Singh spun the thread in front of my eyes: the Mughals, the ruling dynasty of India from 1526 until 1858; the rivalries between fathers and sons, brother against brother, husbands and beloved wives; the political scheming, the obsession for architecture, the love for poetry and most of all, the garden as a vision of paradise.

It is an enchanted place, where “beautiful people” lounge about under aerial architectures, bringing to mind the Mughals’ nomadic past. Look how they are dressed: impalpable silks in riotous colours, the prototype of leisure clothes.

They sing and dance and recite poetry (this I know because their poetry has survived!). They sit cross-legged on carpets and cushions, bare-footed, confortable and stylish in their floating garments.

Of course we know that what we see is not how it was, but we need a temporary suspension of disbelief to enter the imaginary world of the Mughals as it appears in period illustrations.

Look at the portrait of Mumtaz Mahal: this is the lovely lady in whose memory Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal. Poor Mumtaz died of exhaustion: twenty children in as many years can’t be good for you. I’d like to think that there was a garden where, occasionally, she found some respite from too much love.

Mumtaz Mahal and Shah Jahan