Architectural Adventurism in Nineteenth-Century Colonial India: Begum Samru and Her Sardhana Church
Type
abstract
Year
2020
This article explores the politically fluid and culturally hybrid environment of the Indian subcontinent during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Interaction between European mercenaries and their Indian patrons led to acculturation of both sides. This cultural affinity also extended into the realm of architecture and building patronage, resulting in a stylistic hybridity that drew upon both Indian and European traditions. This article examines the building projects of Begum Samru, bibi (consort) of a German mercenary and ruler of Sardhana near Delhi. The Begum, born a Muslim, converted to Christianity, but nonetheless still valued her roots, creating a syncretic identity that was reflected in her architectural patronage. The scope of her patronage went beyond domestic architecture to serve the cause of her adopted religion as well. While she donated generously to Catholic institutions, it was in the building of churches that the Begum resorted to what one may call architectural adventurism to mark her identity as a devout Catholic. Transcending the prevalent notions of space and aesthetics, the Begum's architectural trajectory was unconventional due to her gender, social status, faith, and patronage of churches. Commissioned in 1821, Sardhana's Catholic Church became a symbol of her architectural adventurism: it epitomized Begum Samru's feisty spirit and her quest to champion Catholicism in the subcontinent.


Citation
Pandey Sharma, Jyoti. "Architectural Adventurism in Nineteenth-Century Colonial India: Begum Samru and Her Sardhana Church." In International Journal of Islamic Architecture 9,1 (2020): 61-89.
Collections
Copyright
Intellect
Country
India
Language
English
Keywords
colonialism
churches