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Essence of Spaces


Ramu Katakam

LIVED HERITAGE: SHARED SPACE THE COURTYARD HOUSE OF GOA
By Angelo Costa Silveira. Translated by Maria Flavia Ribeiro
Yoda Press, Delhi, 2008, pp. 140, Rs. 495.00

VOLUME XXXII NUMBER 4 April 2008

Lived Heritage, Shared spaces is a book about courtyard houses in Goa. It is a very personal and detailed effort from an author who was born and lived in Portugal but is of Goan descent. The intensity of his study is clear to see but more important, one can feel the immense joy that he experiences while working on the book. His research includes long journeys on Goan buses and motorbikes, which he seems to revel in.   Goa is a state that has a long history of Portuguese colonialism. It can be argued that its fine building heritage was brought about by the Catholics, but the process of conversions and conquests were not so admirable. It must be remembered that the Spanish inquisition was at it peak during the Portuguese invasions of Goan territory and Goans were subjected to untold torture during this period. However the new rulers did bring with them their customs, cuisine and architecture to their colonies.   Silveira starts his book with a chapter on Hindu homes and discusses their building methodology. The impact of Europe is recognizable but there are not too many grand homes largely due to their being located far away from the capital. They continue to follow the traditions set out by the scriptures and the layouts need to cater to the many functions and festivals that Hindus celebrate. It is the chapter on large Christian homes that is the core of this book. These are described extensively and Silveira has been able to capture the essence of the spaces and decoration in these well-designed houses. The pictures portray elaborate interiors with a major European influence but over a period create a Goan style and identity. It would have been useful to have included a few more visuals and even plans to illustrate the grandeur of these palatial homes.   There is a beautiful relationship between rural areas and urban spaces in Goa. This is largely due to the villages being self sufficient and large residences existing within. The proximity of one village to another allows an individual to live in the countryside and be in contact with the rest of Goa. Genuine old houses have now become much sought after, resulting in their being restored with care and affection. However, Silveira is concerned that not enough is being done to preserve the quality of spaces. Urban growth and numbers will destroy much of ...


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