Natural Indigo/Pastel

Art history/ Historiography, Crafts, Handlooms, Art, Recycling, Upcycling

Natural Indigo/Pastel: A History

Paris, Betty de

Natural Indigo has been used for dyeing textiles since prehistoric times all over the world. It is extracted from several plants depending on the climate and soil quality of the land. In the ancient time Greeks knew the indigo cake as indikom and the Romans as indicum which meant thing coming from India. They however didn’t understood that it was a vegetal substance as it was high priced and was considered like a precious stone like lapis lazuli coming from Afghanistan and was not used for dyeing textiles.
According to the French color historian Michel Pastoureau, color is a cultural fact, if there is no word to name a color it does not exist. According to him in ancient Grecia and Roman times blue color was not an appreciated color as it was the color of the peoples from the north, the barbarians. Till Marco Polo’s (13th Century) travel report, nobody understood what was this indigo made for so expensive, used as a luxurious painting pigment. Even in 17th century in France some people still misunderstood.
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