‘… we represented what we found in the Qur'an with regard to trees and palaces of Paradise …’
Literal representations of the Garden of Paradise are rare. One example is the astonishing mosaic cycle applied around the courtyard of the Umayyad Mosque
in Damascus, dating to the AH 2nd / AD 8th century. It shows an idealised landscape with a sinuous river and an array of palaces and sophisticated buildings. That this pictorial cycle is indeed based on Qur'anic descriptions is confirmed by the survival of a statement by one of the mosaicists involved: 'In the mosaics we represented what we found in the Qur'an with regard to trees and palaces of Paradise. And when a worker had executed a tree in a particularly fine manner the Caliph
'Umar would give him 30 dirham
s as a reward.'