In 1902 the historic building complex was renovated by a merchant, who added a verandah to the back courtyard (pictured above), created a front courtyard to match the back, and built a new entrance to the complex which was richly ornamented with Chinni Tikri or China mosaic.
The inscriptions over the archways in the back verandah are all invocations to Lord Vishnu- ‘Sri Govindaye Nama Nama’, ‘Namaste Sri Gopinath’.
This red structure, that served as a gatehouse, is the oldest part of the complex and resembles the style of architecture developed during the reign of Baro Bhuyian in Bengal (1538-1612), when it was probably built.
Early expert brick work could support steps without the need for additional load bearing structures.
When the complex was renovated, Chinni Tikri or China mosaic was liberally embellished on the surfaces. While China mosaic was commonly used in the flooring of homes in colonial Bombay, in East Bengal it was predominantly used on the facades.
The illuminated model showing the three main units that make up the grand residential complex, with the gatehouse in the middle linking the front and back courtyards.
Dr. Abu Sayeed M. Ahmed, head of the Department of Architecture at the University of Asia Pacific (Dhaka), has masterfully restored the complex over a period of four years. He documents the process in his book Unfolding the Past: Conservation of Baro Sardar Bari.
The restoration project was funded by the Youngone Corporation of Seoul, a leading garments manufacturer in Bangladesh. Mr. Kihak Sung, the Chairman and CEO of the Corporation, has previously restored his ancestral village in South Korea.
The western facade of the complex overlooks a pond.
Interiors: Baro Sardar Bari
Sonargaon, the administrative and maritime centre of Bengal during the medieval period (1296-1608), takes centre stage once again with the restoration of the historic Baro Sardar Bari building complex.
The restoration demonstrates how layers of building and adaptations over a period of 500 years can be highlighted through the original materials used (brick in the medieval period, china mosaic in the colonial) as well as through the various commercial and residential uses to which the structure was put.
As Bangladesh’s foremost restoration project, the Baro Sardar Bari deserves a national opening.
Many thanks to Nausher Rahman, the Digital Communications Director at Bitopi Leo Bernett, for his warm hospitality.