Watercolour, a toddy-tapper at work, Patna, ca. 1805
The term â€˜Company paintingâ€™ is given to pictures made by Indian artists for the British in India, particularly employees of the East India Company, the trading firm that by the 18th century had acquired a territorial empire in India. Most Company paintings are anonymous, but this one, dating from about 1805, is by an artist called Sewak Ram (ca.1770â€“1830), who lived in Patna in northern India. It shows a â€˜toddy tapperâ€™ at work. The English word â€˜toddyâ€™ derives from the Hindi tari, meaning the fermented sap of the palmyra and other palms, such as the date and coco palm. In India toddy, in addition to its alcoholic uses, serves as yeast for leavening bread. It is obtained by climbing and puncturing the tree and then allowing the white juice to trickle down into a jar or pitcher.
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