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This is the traditional courtyard house of Kerala, known as the nalakettu. A tulsi is planted in the centre of the court, and is worshipped as Brahma. It is the basic 1X1 unit of measurement.
The layers around it are said to be the dwelling places of the devas (Gods), the manushya (Humans) and the pishacha (demons), in terms of the traditional vastushastra. Vastushastra is an ancient doctrine that dictates how the laws of nature affect the nature of dwellings. Based on this, the functions and organization of the dwellings are planned.
For example, the 'pisahchanidhi' (outer ring for demons) becomes the verandah around the house. It is only used as an anti-space for connections, not for living.
A courtyard like this marks the centre of a home and opens upwards, breaking the planes, forming a symbolic connection with the other world. If home is where the heart is then the heart is where the court is. Each home has its own open-to-sky court that serves as an invitation for nature and its elements – wind, water and sunlight – to enter the home.
Thank you for the nomination, Pedro Teixeira!
In the Kerala! photo essay.
Also by Niharika Sanyal
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