Natural indigo dye
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Natural Indigo Dye: an Overview

Natural indigo dye

Indigo is one of the most natural dyes and is obtained from a plant. Natural Indigo dye is a blue to dark green color and can be either liquid or solid. It has a deep hue and is used to create rich hues in cloth, paper, textiles and natural makeups. Some cultures use Indigo for tattooing as it has a cooling effect on the skin. There are many uses for indigo. However, some people use natural indigo dye that has been processed using toxic chemicals. Therefore, people should only use indigo safely obtained from nature.

Indigo plants grow in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The leaves of the indigo plant are harvested to create the purple color Indigo is generally a dark blue to green color with a deep hue. Indigo tends to be more liquid when warm and harden into a solid when cold. As with any natural product, people should only wear certified safe indigo if they want to use this color in their clothing or cosmetics.

Emotions of Indigo

Indigo is the second color on the color wheel after blue. It is a dark color that has a cool but calm feel to it. It is an inorganic pigment that has a strong emotionality to it and symbolizes depth, mystery and enlightenment. Indigos are sensual and have an alluring effect on the mind and soul. It is also used in spiritual settings to represent peace, power, intuition, and wisdom. 

People interpret this calm color depth as something meaningful or as power of understanding or intuition. This makes Indigo an ideal color for representing ideas or knowledge in general as well as math or spirituality in particular. 

Early dyes on hand-woven fabrics and the first signs of the Block-Print technique

Early Indian hand-woven fabric is decorated with a repeating motif made by pressing crushed leaves or rocks into the fabric. The fabric then solidifies into an imprinted pattern. Known as block printing, this technique later proliferated throughout the world-favoring the natural dyes it found in local plants and soils. In addition to decorating textiles, this technique has several practical applications, such as making natural paints and ink for writing.

The first Indian dyes appeared in natural form and later gained more vibrant hues through dyes made from natural sources. For example, madder root, derived from a plant native to Europe and North America, became red through a dye made from it. The natural crimson hue later gained a deeper hue through the use of cochineal, an insect native to Mexico that produces a vibrant carmine hue. Indian dyes also found their way to China where they influenced the development of regional hues. Indian dyes have even found their way into modern cosmetic products; almost every woman has her favorite hue.

Traditional Block-Print using natural indigo dye

Printing using natural dyes on fabric first appeared in India. Initially producing only geometric patterns, Indian textile techniques later improved so that intricate designs and bright colors not possible with block printing could be produced. For example, a warp-weighted needle enabled fine details into fabrics, while an artisan’s experience allowed for the creation of new weaves such as satin and velvet.

Early Indian textile techniques also allowed for intricate designs and brilliant hues impossible using block printing. Textile designs from India sometimes show influence from architecture and art from other parts of Asia. All pioneered by Indian artists and architects who traveled to other Asian countries to study artistry. The origins of Indian block print technique and natural dyes are evident in how these trends influenced artistry around the world.

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