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Pepper Cross

Pepper Cross

Subodh Kerkar


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Medium: Piece of old wooden canoe, oar and bronze plate  

Size: 82 cm x 66 cm x 3 cm

Weight: 20kgs

Year: 2019

Vasco-da-Gama reached Kappad, near Calicut on the 20th of May 1498. The first man to be sent ashore was Joao Nunes (an expendable convict). Nunes met two men from Tunisia on the shore, who asked him in Spanish, “What the devil brought you here?” “We come for Christ and for pepper”, he answered. If India did not have pepper, perhaps we would never have been colonized. Pepper was about one hundred times more expensive in Europe than here, which meant 10,000% profits! The Portuguese held a monopoly of the pepper trade in the Indian Ocean until the Dutch and the English arrived in the 17th century. I have created a work using a piece of old wooden canoe and an oar. Tiny craters indicating pepper are carved out on the surface of the wood. The faint shape of a cross is visible on the oar. A bronze plate with patterns of the ocean surface is embedded in the wooden plank. The work is in response to the pepper story.


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