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The Figueiredo House

The Figueiredo House in Goa is a paradigm of Indo-Islamic and Portuguese art and culture. While the house in Portuguese in form, a closer look reveals an interesting mix of local art and even hints of the European Renaissance!

A false ceiling in the 15th Century

While the house appears voluminous from the exteriors, the attic is covered with a teakwood floor that functions as the ceiling in the entrance lobby. It has voids on it, covered in a criss-cross fashion by teakwood strips. This ensures adequate ventilation.

The arched doorways

The arches borrow from the Islamic scalloped arch but the iconography in the form of birds suggest otherwise. While the use of colour is bold and dark, the artist or craftsperson adhered to a natural palette of green and brown.

The ballroom

The home takes an European demeanour in the semi-private interiors that were privy to hosting and entertaining – a ballroom and a dining room. Currently, the ballroom and dining room are converted into museums to display furniture and also offer a peek into the way of life that ensued half a millennium ago.

Interior details in the ballroom

The walls in the ballroom whiff of renaissance that transpired parallely in Portugal. The mouldings, panelling, interior cornice details that were gilded in wood in Portugal, are hand-painted and replicated on the walls. Strain your eyes and look closely, you’ll see it!

The renaissance touch

The same ‘Renaissance-like’ detail on the windows

Dining area

The dining area that hosts high-tea and formal dinners.

‘Etched’ walls and crib

Etching is a Hindu style of painting where a base coat is applied and allowed to dry. The second coat is applied and the wet paint is dragged by a razor.

Guest area

A newly guest area in the Old House. Do you see a hint of new pinewood amidst classic teaks?

The well orchestrated furniture

Furniture borrows from Portuguese influence in ergonomics; the eased backrests, high seats and armrests suggest eased postures unlike their Indian counterparts. Indians traditionally cooked, ate, sat and slept on the floor. But in terms of details, the motifs are clearly an Islamic virtue.

Italian terracotta tile

Individual tiles are arranged to form the above patterns.

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Workspace 23 Oct 2017

Away from the seas and parties, Figueiredo Mansion showcases home-staying in 16th Century Goa

A house that was conceived within the many layers of Indo-Islamic art, Portuguese Renaissance and local techniques, has extended its histories and legacies to visitors and travellers. CQ savours and soaks in the architecture of Figueiredo house, what one may also entitle as globalisation in the 16th Century!

500 years ago...

Portugal, in the 16th Century witnessed Renaissance in art, literature and politics. It was also the age of discovery as it turned eastward and set foot in smaller kingdoms to establish trade networks. Alongside, a village called Goa on the Eastern Coast was on the brink of globalisation. The Portuguese arrivals added another layer of art and culture on Goa. Even as 21st Century Goa is famed for its Portuguese architecture, 16th Century Goa must have been the paradigm of global culture and influences. And one such paradigm, frozen in time is the Figueiredo House at Loutolim in Goa.

The Figueiredo family recently opened up a part of their house to visitors and travellers. They are originally from Sancoale in Goa. They converted to Christianity and moved to Loutolim where Jesuit Priests from Rachol Seminary of Goa designed and built the house. Prior to the Portuguese, the Hindu and Islamic rulers ruled Goa. The art, craft and architecture was an amalgam of both systems.

The Figueiredo House

The Figueiredo House in Goa is a paradigm of Indo-Islamic and Portuguese art and culture. While the house in Portuguese in form, a closer look reveals an interesting mix of local art and even hints of the European Renaissance!

Indian craft connects with Portuguese Renaissance

The Figueiredo House as seen today was built in two parts – The Old House in 1590 and The New House in 1790. Close to 500 years later, the nomenclature continues.

The house looms over with a lofty height of 20 feet. The early ‘Indian’ homes opened inwards onto courtyards and their external windows were small in size. But the Portuguese introduced the concept of bigger windows with balconies facing the roads. It was an initiation to communicate with the natives. But as the user steps inward, a traditional teakwood roof reduces the volume to a more human proportion. The attic is covered with teakwood stripes in a ‘criss-cross’ fashion. This ‘false ceiling’ ensures adequate ventilation.

A false ceiling in the 15th Century

While the house appears voluminous from the exteriors, the attic is covered with a teakwood floor that functions as the ceiling in the entrance lobby. It has voids on it, covered in a criss-cross fashion by teakwood strips. This ensures adequate ventilation.

“The Figueiredo House as seen today was built in two parts – The Old House in 1590 and The New House in 1790. Close to 500 years later, the nomenclature continues.”

Walls: European overlays over local colour palettes 

Walls across the old and new homes were hand-painted and undergo regular touch-ups. The transition of public spaces to the semi-private to private show stark difference in the colour palette and symbology. For instance, a door opening in the main lobby has an Islamic scalloped arch but the iconography over it features ‘birds’ a deviation from traditional Islamic art. The use of colour is bold and dark, but adheres to a natural palette of green and brown.

The arched doorways

The arches borrow from the Islamic scalloped arch but the iconography in the form of birds suggest otherwise. While the use of colour is bold and dark, the artist or craftsperson adhered to a natural palette of green and brown.

 

A European vibe prevails in the semi-private ballroom that is currently a museum. The ‘ballroom’ culture that was borrowed from the Portuguese also wore aspirations of its region. The mouldings, panelling, interior cornice details that were gilded in wood in Portugal are hand-painted and replicated on the walls in the house. Soft yellow motifs are painted over white walls. The private interiors again deploy bold prints and patterns, which might have been a local trend at the given time.

The ballroom

The home takes an European demeanour in the semi-private interiors that were privy to hosting and entertaining – a ballroom and a dining room. Currently, the ballroom and dining room are converted into museums to display furniture and also offer a peek into the way of life that ensued half a millennium ago.

Interior details in the ballroom

The walls in the ballroom whiff of renaissance that transpired parallely in Portugal. The mouldings, panelling, interior cornice details that were gilded in wood in Portugal, are hand-painted and replicated on the walls. Strain your eyes and look closely, you’ll see it!

A bedroom that has been converted into a museum has its walls finished in an ‘etching’ technique. The technique involves applying a second coat on dried paint while dragging the razor to create a pattern like a thick and swift brushstroke. While most of the hand-painted work is restored and repainted from time to time, the ‘etched’ walls cannot be restored, only redone from scratch.

The renaissance touch

The same ‘Renaissance-like’ detail on the windows

Patterns, motifs and borrowed ergonomics

Most furniture borrows from Portuguese influence on body-language i.e. the eased backrests, high seats and armrests suggest eased postures unlike their Indian counterparts. Since Indians traditionally cooked, ate, sat and slept on the floor. But in terms of details, the motifs are clearly an Indo-Islamic virtue.

Dining area

The dining area that hosts high-tea and formal dinners.

 

The Old House flooring is mainly stone and local Goan tiles. The New House floors are finished in terracotta tiles imported from Italy. Individual tiles are arranged to form patterns. Each tile is handmade yet they are uniformly sized. They were meticulously laid by hand after predetermining the room size and shape. A solid band of colour runs on the periphery of each room inside which the patterns are laid. This ensured a seamless finish. A wooden floor is used in the ballroom and dining areas.

‘Etched’ walls and crib

Etching is a Hindu style of painting where a base coat is applied and allowed to dry. The second coat is applied and the wet paint is dragged by a razor.

Guest area

A newly guest area in the Old House. Do you see a hint of new pinewood amidst classic teaks?

“The transition of public spaces to the semi-private to private show stark difference in the colour palette and symbology.”

Since the Old House was converted to a homestay, certain parts were renovated to bring in a ‘modern’ touch to the heritage home. But surely, at its time, it must have been an exemplar contemporary home. Although we live in times with virtually no borders or boundaries as information, merchandise, art and even food, flora and fauna assembled at the click of a button. But half a millennium ago, the Figueiredo House had already bridged this gap for itself!

The well orchestrated furniture

Furniture borrows from Portuguese influence in ergonomics; the eased backrests, high seats and armrests suggest eased postures unlike their Indian counterparts. Indians traditionally cooked, ate, sat and slept on the floor. But in terms of details, the motifs are clearly an Islamic virtue.

Italian terracotta tile

Individual tiles are arranged to form the above patterns.

The Figueiredo House is also a homestay and open on all days for tours. More details here.

Thank you Harshwardhan Joshi for the discourse on Goan Architecture and homes.