Crepe ginger

Description
Crepe Ginger (Cheilocostus speciosus) has recently been recommended as a possible remedy for diabetes, the leaves, seeds and creeping rhizomes being used to lower blood sugar levels, because they contain diosgenin; this also affects the production of oestrogen and has been used to manufacture contraceptive pills. In China the young shoots and rhizomes are eaten as vegetables. In traditional Indian medicine crepe ginger has a large number of uses, mainly associated with its diuretic, anti-fungal and anti-septic effects; it is also used against intestinal worms.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries the East India Company controlled much of the Indian subcontinent. Keen to exploit and export valuable natural commodities, the Company set out to record the flora of India and commissioned Indian artists to create detailed botanical illustrations. Many of the plants were known through their use in Ayurvedic medicine. One of the world’s oldest medicinal systems, it has been practised in India for 3,000 years.

Company School style paintings became popular with wealthy Europeans. It was not uncommon for East India Company officials (who were not employed as medics or botanists) to build their own personal collections of paintings depicting Indian flora and fauna. We cannot be sure how local amateur botanist Richard Cresswell came by this collection of 86 Company School works. It is possible Henry Creighton commissioned them during his time as a judge in Calcutta and that on his death the works came back to the UK with his daughter Frances who later married Richard Cresswell.
Accession Loan No.
19/1927/2/7
Simple Name
drawing
Full Name
Costus Specrosa J Sm
Medium
watercolour on paper
Common Name
crepe ginger
Family
Costaceae
Genus
Cheilocostus
Species
speciosus
Production Person Surname
anon
Production Country
India
Period Classification
George III (1760-1811)
Collection Class
Drawings
Production Town
Calcutta
Production County
Bengal
Production Area Region
South Asia
Production Continent
Asia
Production Year Low
1780
Production Year High
1810
Inscription / Transcription
HERB. MUS. EXON CRESSWELL COLLECTION 19/1927; Costus Specrosa J Sm; No 7
Family Group

Dimensions
total sheet height 555 mm; total sheet length 390 mm
Created At
2016-10-13 15:46:28
Updated At
2020-01-28 11:43:38

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