A Life Lived in Gardens

Babur’s favorite garden was located at Istalif, in the mountains outside Kabul. He described it as a soothing landscape of cool running water and abundant greenery. Babur enjoyed many excursions with his courtiers in Istalif’s orchards and pleasure gardens, shaded by rows of sprawling plane trees.

These objects are from the Moynihan archives at the National Museum of Asian Art. Garden historian Elizabeth Moynihan retraced much of Babur’s journey, traveling through Central and South Asia in the 1970s. Moynihan visited in the harsh winter, but she located many of the same scenic vistas Babur described, including some of his plane trees, which she meticulously documented in sketches and photographs.

View from Istalif, Afghanistan
Elizabeth B. Moynihan
Photographic print
The Elizabeth Moynihan Collection, FSA.A2013.06
Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives
Gift of Elizabeth Moynihan, 2013. FSA.A2013.