Appropriating Indo-Saracenic style: Bhai Ram Singh’s contributions to the architectural identity of 19th century Lahore


India colonial
Jeypore Portfolio
Política identitaria
Revivalismo Colonial India
Jeypore Portfolio
Identity Politics


After 1857, when India became a direct colony of the British Crown, was the architectural style adopted by the colonial masters an attempt at subverting the local identity and reasserting their supremacy via architecture or was its purpose to engage their institutions with their context? Was the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture anachronistic and reductive in nature or was it a way to draw on the past? What role did the Jeypore Portfolio play in negotiating colonial intent by appropriating traditional building culture? How did Bhai Ram Singh mediate an identity for 19th century Lahore by contextualizing Indo-Saracenic architecture? This exploratory study attempts to answer these questions using existing literary sources and by considering buildings designed by Bhai Ram Singh in the city of Lahore. The paper also critically evaluates the agency of the Jeypore Portfolio for Indo-Saracenic architecture, how it reduced the centuries-old local building tradition to a limited palette of details, and Bhai Ram Singh’s attempts to re-inform it from the native’s perspective.


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