East Azarbaijan, close by Tabriz. This could have been paradise on earth, not only metaphorically but also – quite literally. Now more and more scholars and historians are suggesting that ancient Tabriz and its surrounding is none other than the actual original location of the story of the Garden of Eden and of Adam and Eve. *
In East Azerbaijan there is a local tradition of telling the story of the second garden of Eden. This is how Shayegheh Seyfizadeh’s mother would tell the story to her during her childhood in Marand, west of Tabriz:
Once there was a farmer named Shaddad. One day ploughing his land the plough got stuck, the bulls couldn’t pull it lose, and with his kolang and a great deal of effort he dug and discovered three massive urns filled with gold and jewellery. He said to himself:
- “If I tell people about the pots they’ll kill me to get hold of the treasure. If the news reaches the king I’m sure he’ll send his men to take it from me.”
So farmer Shaddad hid the pots in another location, safe from ploughs and prying people. He sat beside his field, lit his chopogh and after pondering he came to the conclusion:
First of all, one should trust one’s parents. Secondly – trust one’s own spouse.
Farmer Shaddad’s parents weren’t alive anymore, so he decides to share his finding with his wife. To put her reliability to the test he came home that night, acting worried and distraught:
- Today I’ve given birth to a rabbit.
His wife laughed and ridiculed him.
- Men can’t give birth! And if they did it sure wouldn’t be to a rabbit.
The farmer reached into his saddlebag and pulled out a dead rabbit.
- This is the rabbit I gave birth to today.
His wife again laughed and ridiculed him. They ate dinner and went to sleep. Early morning the next day instead of going to his field, farmer Shaddad went to the village spring and hid in a corner. When all women as usual gathered, to wash clothes and carpets, farmer Shaddad’s wife also turned up, this time full of gossip.
- Yesterday my husband gave birth to a rabbit!
The news quickly spread around the village and when farmer Shaddad returned home that evening he told his wife.
- You are of no use to me.
He divorced and found himself a new wife. Again, when coming home from the field one night, he acted distraught and worried.
- Something has happened to me and I do not know what to do.
His wife asked:
- What has happened?
- Today, in the fields I gave birth to a crow.
His wife said:
- Why are you telling lies? Men don’t give birth, and if they did, it sure wouldn’t be to a crow. I think you have an issue you can’t tell me about. But you should be sure, anything you tell me will be kept to our selves.
For several days he hides by the spring, observing his wife. Not only does she keep silent about his story but also seems worried and troubled. So he decided to go home that evening and tell her the truth.
- I have found three pots of gold and jewellery and I don’t want anyone to know. I do not know what to do.
His wife said:
- Let’s dig them up in the middle of the night and bring them home.
Out of the pots they grabbed a handful of jewellery and spread them around the village by tossing them over the walls and through windows. In the morning they woke up to a commotion in the village. The villagers were telling each other stories of found treasures, and barely noticed when farmer Shaddad’s wife told them she’d also found gold and jewellery, an entire bagful.
When farmer Shaddad and his wife noticed that nobody seemed bothered about their bag of gold, one day the moved and settled down in a village where nobody knew them. They bought a great big piece of land and because farmer Shaddad was such an able man he turned it into a glorious garden, with plants and fruit from all over the world, building trails of marble and glorious walls. When all the jewels and gold was sold and the money spent all that remained were doors for the gateway of the garden. Every day he stood outside the gates of the garden, pondering:
- What doors can I buy for this garden that suits its glory?
One day he sees an old man carrying one big magnificent door on his back yelling:
- A door for sale! A door for sale!
When asking the man about the price for the door the old man responded:
- I won’t sell if for money, but for half the garden.
Because farmer Shaddad now was wealthy and powerful he said to himself:
- Sure why not, the old man will still not be as powerful as I am, his powers won’t reach mine.
He bought the door and gave the old man half the garden. Several weeks later, the old man returned, with the other pair of the door.
- Give me the other half of the garden and I’ll give you this door.
Farmer Shaddad agreed and gave the old man the other half of the garden. He assembled the other door into the gateway and stepped on to his horse, proudly riding down the trail to be the first to enter his garden like a noble man. The moment the horse stepped on the threshold of the garden, Azrael, the angel of death, showed up.
- Prepare, Shaddad, I’m going to take your life.
The farmer Shaddad asked of the angel:
- Could you please wait? I want to just one time ride into my garden and see what I’ve built.
Azrael then said:
- The garden isn’t yours. You own only the two doors I sold you.
There and then Azrael took farmer Shaddad’s life, and that is how the second garden of Eden forever got lost to humanity.
*For more on theory of Tabriz as the original Garden of Eden read David Rohl’s presentation or Peter Martin’s travel letter.