Natural Dyes and Processes – India’s Story


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Turban cloth – Victoria & Albert Museum ©

I was looking for various textiles that have been prepared by hand and I was particularly interested in natural dyes and its processes. I found this great article in Victoria and Albert Museum called “The Fabric of India: Nature & Making”. 

These are some of the short film clips and a paragraph on the dying process. If you are interested, read the full article on the museum’s website.

India’s natural dyes, especially those for blue and red, have been renowned for millennia. Blue dye was so closely associated with India that the ancient Greeks took its western name – indikos (indigo) – from the country itself. Red dyeing with fixing agents (mordants) was known to the Indus valley civilisation by about 2500 BC.

Fixing the colour is the great challenge of dyeing cloth. Indian dyers’ use of mordants was key to their expertise, which was unrivalled until the invention of western chemical dyes in the 19th century. It is this wealth and mastery of bright and lasting natural dyes that perhaps best distinguishes India’s textile heritage.

8 thoughts on “Natural Dyes and Processes – India’s Story”

  1. Have you read any of Salman Rushdies books? He includes some powerful descriptions of curing leather and of the caste system which leaves it’s people doing the same jobs throughout the generations, with no chance of ever doing anything different. Makes me appreciate so much about my life.

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    1. Hi Teres, welcome! No, I don’t have his books, but I would love to read them. Thank you so much for sharing that information; it is interesting what we plant and grows in our families. Life is very interesting.

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