The Tree of Life:
This is the tree on our bedroom floor. It is a wool and silk carpet, woven in Qum, Iran (formerly Persia) and is about fifty or sixty years old. The 'tree of life' motif is ancient and found world-wide: from China to Egypt and even in North America. It symbolises life, immortality, fertility and the boundlessness of the natural world. Some elaborate systems use the tree of life as a symbol of the Earth and cosmos, male-female balance and so on. There are also some esoteric schemes which see the tree of life as the secret of eternity.
In the case of our rug, I think the central scene symbolises the paradise of the 'hortus inclusus' - the enclosed or walled garden. The concept of a separate world - Eden, or an oasis - as an enclosed garden began to make more sense to me when we moved to the deserts of the Middle East. The harshness of the landscape and the climate is thrown into contrast by the softness and fertility of the enclosed garden.
The rug has a strong border depicting buildings in Qum, but also serving as the 'wall' of the garden. In the safe space inside, birds flourish, flowers bloom and the tree offers cool shade and the promise of life. Of course, it is a fantastic tree, blooming with myriad and disparate flowers (including dianthus, hyacinth, and rose). The sinuous trunk weaves across the space, an arabesque symbolising the infinite nature of of the spiritual life, while the birds offer music and the freedom of flight.
You are welcome to come and sit in my garden, take sweet tea and dates, and listen to the poet's song.