Labelled simply ‘Weighing indigo, before steeping, in Tirhut’, this seemingly quaint image shows part of a traditional production line that had been commandeered and controlled by British government forces.
Born in a sprawling, wild land, the men in these photos had – through no fault of their own – become servants of the British Empire.
While researching what scant information this photo provides, ShSo learnt of the Indigo Revolt, a non-violent action protesting the mistreatment of indigo planters and workers at the hands of the East India Company. This occurred in Bengal – southwest of Tirhut – a few decades prior to the presumed date of this photograph. British Raj forces responded brutally and many were executed.
District Magistrate E.W.L. Tower was later quoted as stating, “not a chest of Indigo reach England without being stained with human blood” and that “such a system carrying on indigo, I consider to be a system of bloodshed”.
Our modern global system continues to extract resource materials for use in items of convenience and luxury. We should continue to question the methods of their procurement and the regions from where they are extracted.