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Products for grant FT-61787-14

The Visual Cultures of Tea Consumption in Imperial and Modern India
Romita Ray, Syracuse University

Grant details:

Transplanting the Aesthetics of Tea Consumption and the Birth of a British Exotic (Book Section)
Title: Transplanting the Aesthetics of Tea Consumption and the Birth of a British Exotic
Author: Romita Ray
Editor: Yota Batsaki
Editor: Sarah Cahalan
Editor: Anatole Tchikine
Abstract: n/a
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: n/a
Access Model: Book
Publisher: Washington DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
Book Title: The Botany of Empire in the Long Eighteenth Century
ISBN: 9780884024163

“Canton to Calcutta: Tea and Chinoiserie in a Colonial Garden.” (Book Section)
Title: “Canton to Calcutta: Tea and Chinoiserie in a Colonial Garden.”
Author: Romita Ray
Editor: Niranjan Goswami
Abstract: Taking my cue from Johann Zoffany's "The Auriol and Dashwood Families" (1783-87) painted in Calcutta, I will look at the intersections between material culture, botanizing, and cultivating tea in late eighteenth-century Bengal. Zoffany's group portrait of a tea party in a Calcutta garden was completed just around the time British naturalists and East India Company officials were discussing the commercial potential of the tea plant. As letters and specimens circulated between Calcutta, London, and Canton, a Chinese exotic was about to be transformed into a British colonial commodity despite anxieties about its medical effects and cultural impact. My essay focuses on the diverse but related visual realms that played key roles in reinventing Chinese tea as a commercial product and a fashionable drink. As importantly, they were mediated through different registers of taste deeply embedded in readings of British character and sensibility. Such readings in turn, would have a profound impact on transplanting Chinese tea in India. In 1786, Colonel Robert Kyd created a botanical garden in Calcutta with the strategic goal to experiment with growing Chinese tea, among other lucrative plants. If successful, the plan would relieve the East India Company of their dependence on the China Trade. It would also usher in a distinctly "British" visual culture of tea drinking in a colonial landscape. Thus, I look at how the aesthetics of tea consumption, inspired by a Chinese import, were transplanted in Britain's emergent tea-growing enclave--India.
Year: 2018
Publisher: Kolkata: Jadavpur University Press.
Book Title: "De/siring India: Representations through British and French Eyes (1584-1857)."