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Innovation and Assimilation: The Jesuit Contribution to Architectural Development in Portuguese India, The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences and the Arts, 1540-1773, University of Toronto Press, 1999

"Innovation and Assimilation: The Jesuit Contribution to Architectural Development in Portuguese India," The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences and the Arts, 1540-1773, University of Toronto Press, 1999
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   1 INNOVATION AND ASSIMILATION: THE JESUIT CONTRIBUTION TO ARCHITECTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN PORTUGUESE INDIA David M. Kowal The Jesuit presence in Asia officially commenced in 1542 when Francis Xavier arrived in Portuguese-held Goa on the west coast of the Indian subcontinent. Francis initially responded with favor to the physical and religious climate he encountered there; writing to his comrades in Rome soon after his arrival in the Indies, he remarked that "Goa is a city pleasant to see, entirely inhabited by Christians. It has a monastery with many friars of St. Francis, a very fine cathedral with many canons, and many other churches. There is reason for giving many thanks to God our Lord seeing how the name of Christ is flourishing so well in such distant lands and among so many infidels." i  Although Francis' remarks were brief, they nevertheless suggest the extraordinary transformation that had taken place in Goa since its capture by the Portuguese in 1510. Over the years Goa had emerged as the administrative and economic capital of Portugal's eastern domains and, under the direction of the Portuguese-crown "padroado" (which had sponsored Xavier's presence in the Indies) the enclave became the control-center and staging-ground for Christian religious activities throughout Asia. Already in 1518 Observant Franciscans had established a fixed headquarters in the city, and in 1534 Goa became a bishopric, followed in 1557 by elevation to the status of a metropolitan archbishopric. Moreover, during the initial decades of Portuguese rule authorities had engaged in a campaign intended to displace native   2 religious beliefs for those of Christianity. This policy was effected, in part, through the systematic destruction of the most visible physical traces of the native religions -- its mosques and temples. ii  Often appropriating their very sites, the Portuguese built Christian churches which, as they multiplied in number, endowed the Goan islands with the physical and spiritual look and feel of metropolitan Portugal itself. iii  In fulfillment of its "padroado" duties the crown provided engineers to design and construct many of the early ecclesiastical structures in Goa and elsewhere in the Portuguese Indies. Most were built in accord with a nationalistically-based, late-gothic style called the Manueline, whose fortified and decorative features were symbolically identified with the combined secular power and religious authority of the Portuguese nation. iv  Thus, the ecclesiastical establishments built in Goa prior to the arrival of the Jesuits served not only as functional places in which to administer spiritual needs, but, by virtue of their concrete presence on the Indian subcontinent, they ideologically asserted the preeminence of western Christianity over the religious beliefs of Portugal's new, non-Christian and non-western subjects. More specifically, the symbolic Manueline form of these churches literally embodied within it the essential role and responsibility of the crusading Portuguese state in transplanting its religion to the East. v  Xavier seemed to recognize this quality in the ecclesiastical structures he encountered in Goa and perhaps he even understood how the utilization of specific architectural plans and forms could convey referential allusions to the policies, goals, and values of the sponsors and users who design such edifices. Such was certainly the case with   3 Jesuit successors, who, having firmly established and expanded the Society's presence throughout Portuguese India, engaged in the vigorous construction of novitiates and professed houses built to maintain the Order and its members, and colleges and churches -- the latter undoubtedly the Jesuits greatest architectural achievement in India -- erected to fulfill the Society's educational duties and proselytizing mission. The more substantial Jesuit churches were erected in locales where there was a significant Portuguese presence, as for instance in Goa, Daman, Diu, Bassein, Chaul and Cochin, and most were associated with Jesuit colleges. Moreover, in specific localities where the Society was vested with parochial responsibilities -- as for instance in the Goan district of Salcete -- the Jesuits took on the responsibility of establishing and supervising the construction of parish churches. In all these instances, Jesuit sponsors recognized the practicality of configuring these structures in concordance with the Order's own religious practices and its specific proselytizing mission. Equally, the Jesuit builders of Portuguese India seem to have understood -- as Manueline builders had before them -- that the choice and utilization of specific architectural forms could invest their structures with particular symbolic meaning. Many of the Jesuit-sponsored churches of Portuguese India survive in whole or in part. An overview of these structures provides incite into how the fabric of India-based, Jesuit churches evolved and the sources from which they were derived. Furthermore, their direct examination lends understanding to how the choice and utilization of specific plans, configurations, and architectural forms served to convey   4 ideological significance specific to the Jesuit presence and mission in what was then the periphery of Christendom. In 1551 the administration and property of the Confraternity of the Holy Faith was formerly turned over to the care of Francis Xavier, thus setting in motion the establishment of a home-base and initial mother-church for the Society in the Manueline city of Goa. vi  Under Jesuit guidance the educational duties and Order-related activities of the institution grew so dramatically that its existing structures on the Rua de Carreira dos Cavallos -- situated on a site where a mosque had formerly stood -- became insufficient. In the 1560's the buildings previously erected for the Confraternity were demolished and new ones built on the site under Jesuit auspices. The foundation stone of a new church was laid in 1560 by Antonio de Quadros, then the Society's Provincial in India, who oversaw the project through to its completion in 1572. vii  Throughout the remainder of the 16th century and into the 17th, the Colegio de São Paulo and its church served as the Society's principal staging-ground for educational and missionary activities in Goa and throughout Asia. Already in the early 17th century, however, the area in which the complex was located became increasingly unhealthy and was progressively abandoned, the various functions performed there moved to other locations in and around the city. viii  By the late 18th century the Colegio lay in ruins and in 1829 the Portuguese governor ordered the demolition of all but a portion of São Paulo's facade, today the only remaining part of a church described in its glory-days as "the largest and most beautiful in India." ix  Mário Chicó has hypothetically reconstructed the facade of this   5 first Jesuit church in the Indies. x  Following his model, it can be shown that São Paulo's facade stood four stories in height and was three bays wide; the stories were differentiated from one another by entablatures and the compartmentalized bays separated by projecting vertical buttresses rising the height of the structure. The church's interior was accessed through three portals, the largest and most prominent of which is the surviving central doorway whose arched opening is flanked on either side by paired columns raised on decorated pedestals which support a projecting entablature (fig. 1) . In turn, this entablature provides a base upon which rests a square window with niches to either side on the second story. The combined articulation of the first and second stories of the central bay creates a retable-like configuration that accents the principal entrance to the church and the vertical axis of the facade. Likely, the third story of the facade was punctuated with round windows in each of its three bays, while the whole was capped by a single, central compartment screened on either side by curving volutes extending over the adjoining outer bays. The surviving central portal (and presumably the side portals, and window moldings and entablatures above) are carved from granite which would have stood in sharp contrast to the local laterite in which the bulk of the church was constructed. The latter areas were undoubtedly white-washed with lime to protect the porous laterite stone from the heavy monsoon rains. By virtue of its height, embellishment and whiteness, São Paulo's tall, tower-less facade must once have stood out in its lush tropical setting like an imposing stage front intent upon awing its public. As in previous Manueline structures, the mere presence of this monumental
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