Miranda House

Miranda House

Loutulim [Loutolim], Goa, India


Among the large houses pertaining to Catholic Brahmin families, the Miranda House reveals particular features that make it a notable example from the 18th century, before baroque influence. The house’s large size and complex programme indicate the growing power of the Brahmin families, which clearly accompanied the declining power of the major families from the Portuguese nobility. In the case of this family, power was maintained and eventually confirmed when in the 19th century Constâncio do Rosário e Miranda received the title of noble knight of the Royal House with respective coat-of-arms. Although Brahmins, the Mirandas distinguished themselves in feats of arms and in the fight against the Rane families who dominated the provinces of Ponda near Loutulim, on the other side of the Zuari River. This connection to arms may explain the effort to emphasise the two-storey main façade and its severe detailing with straight-framed windows. The entrance in turn adopts a 17th century side-access scheme, via a bay equal to that of a window, suggesting the application of a new entry programme over a pre-existing arrangement. The stairs to the upper floor rise from the middle of a passage room, also indicating an adoption. The formal composition and structure of this apparently sober and massive house is close to the plain aesthetics of the Portuguese nobility’s palaces. As in other cases, the two-storey façade hides a dwelling programme mainly concentrated on the ground floor. The upper floor does not function as the main floor; rather, it is reduced to a large space, the sadery, and visiting rooms, such as we find in typical Hindu houses. Another traditionally Hindu aspect is the dining room, which has the added functions of a chapel due to the unusual location of an altar at one end. This room is situated in the middle of the interior structure and establishes a connection between the salons and the kitchen zone, and has clear affinities with the functions of the vasary in the Hindu house. Observation of these details of the interiors’ structures shows that the current building results from the transformation of a much older construction arranged in the typical manner of a Hindu house. This hypothesis is strengthened by the central patio, onto which a room and gallery open in a manner recalling the Hindu raj angan. The house is also provided with a small garden which represents an ultimate example of a Portuguese tradition without much continuity in the houses of native families. The garden comprises two small promenades with a pond where they meet. The pathways are also lined with balusters on which vases are placed. At the end of one of the promenades is a belvedere with a low wall; it suggests a garden pavilion roof such as we find at the Dean’s Palace in Quepem.

Helder Carita