Between 1680 and 1730, in Marie Galante, the cultivation of True indigo plants was at its height. The plant was discovered in India by Europeans, who brought it back to their countries and colonies. True indigo growing particularly fits into tropical regions like in Guadeloupe.
What are the origins of a non traditional cultivation? In the XVII and XVIII centuries, Marie Galante Island was the scene of numerous fights between British, French and Dutch. The island inhabitants were chased away after a final British attack in 1691. When they came back to their land, they started growing indigo plants, at a time when the price of tobacco dropped.
Marie Galante appeared to be an ideal place for the cultivation of the plant which required less investments, a warm and dry climate, as well as an abundance of space and freshwater.
The sugar cane grows on…
In 1686, we could count up to 100 indigo factories in Guadeloupe, among which 86 were created in Marie Galante, and more precisely in Galets and Bas areas in the North.
However, little by little, other minor cultivations such as coffee or cotton started competing with the indigo; and it was eventually the sugar cane which became the predominant cultivation.
Therefore, the indigo became forgotten during a long time, but nowadays it has a great opportunity to come out again. Some projects are being under consideration, such as the rehabilitation of an old factory, or introducing some discovery tours…
Rebirth of an ancestral culture
Anne and Ghislain are passionate about the True indigo and they already have made plans to revive its tradition, through the Indigo House which is located in la Désirade. Make a visit and they will teach you how to manufacture the True indigo.
There is also a shop where you can buy some indigo dyed clothes, pigments or vegetable inks.