One Hundred and Nineteen Deeds of Sale


 

Few details are on record of the history of people enslaved in India and brought on the ships of the Dutch East India Company to work at the Cape Town Castle and the Company Gardens in the 17th century. However, deeds of sale in the Cape Town archives do record a name given by a slave master, to each person, together with their age, sex, and place of birth in India. We are also given the names of buyers and sellers, prices paid and the date of the transaction.

 

Sue Williamson has inscribed this scant information in black ink on to cotton working shirts and lengths of cloth sent from India in a recollection of the original journey. On September 14, readings from that history will be recounted, and the garments will be dipped into muddy waters drawn from the Castle, and hung around the grounds. They will remain on view until September 24, Heritage Day.

 

The garments will then be taken down and make a return journey to India, where they will be washed clean once again, in a public laundry in Kochi, a city also colonised by the Dutch East India Company. They will then be rehung as an installation in the old colonial building of Aspinwall House, as part of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in December 2018.