The name “Basaga” was derived from the many Saga trees which bear little red seeds found around the compound. The indigenous Malays called the hard red seeds of this tree “Buah Saga” while the local Chinese adapted it to “bwa’saga”. We subsequently evolved the word to “Basaga” as the property name.
“Buah Saga” – Ba.sa.ga (bä -ˈsä – ge) . noun
Saga seeds are very hard, pebbled sized and are bright red in color. The seeds are mainly used as traditional beading material and as playing pieces for traditional games. The extracts of the tree bark have been known to be used in traditional medicine as an anti-inflammatory compress. In ancient India and Arabia, saga seeds were collected and used as a measuring unit against the weight of gold, hence the Arabic word “saga” which means “goldsmith”.
The main house at Basaga was reputedly built near the turn of the century during the reign of the second White Rajah of Sarawak, Sir Charles Anthoni Brooke. At that time, the property only comprised of the main house itself and an attached servants quarter which today serves as an indoor lounge for The Courtyard Bar.
The architecture is a fine example of mansions built during that period featuring thick columns and heavy “bilian” or “iron wood” accents. The earliest known owner of the original property was said to be a wealthy Indian merchant who owned the house during the pre-war years and throughout the Japanese occupation period.
Sometime during the mid 1950’s, the property was sold to a Scottish doctor whose family still resides in Kuching today as third generation Malaysians. During the early 1960’s, prior to Sarawak’s independence as a British Colony in 1963, the property was converted into a school.
A double-storied barrack was built across the courtyard and lawn of the main house to serve as a classroom block, the architecture of which is again typical of post-war colonial architecture in British Malaya and similar examples can be found throughout Malaysia and Singapore.
In addition to the barrack, a second servants quarter was built next to the main house, a school canteen off the main lawn adjacent to the barracks, as well as a utility shed at the edge of the courtyard. The school canteen and utility shed have been converted to the Basaga Suite and The Courtyard Bar respectively.
The property was in a state of near abandonment for the most part of the mid 1980’s onwards until taken over in late 2008 and restored to its present condition to make way for Basaga Holiday Residences.