Coromandel: Sugar and Spice, Not so Nice

“Coromandel is a region on the south-east coast of India, renowned for the best Indian textiles. Initially, the Dutch controlled the lucrative spice market through trade in textiles from this area. By the late 17th century they were selling the cloth in Europe for use as furnishings and clothes. 

The Dutch woman in the artwork wears a coat of floral fabric from Coromandel. She stands in front of a spice tree, symbol of the Dutch trade in spices such as nutmeg, pepper and cloves. The tree takes the form of the ‘Tree of Life’, a frequent motif in Indian furnishing fabric. Hanging from the tree we see the shocking image of a tortured figure. The dutch used the profits of their trade in Indian textiles to fund the use of enslaved people on their sugar plantations in South America.” The Singh Twins,