Natural Dyeing in India: Past and Future

Natural Dyeing in India: Past and Future

Natural dyeing using vegetable materials on textile fibres consists of first extracting the colouring matter from the dye material, and then creating a bond between the colouring matter and the fibre to be dyed. Textile fibres of animal origin, such as wool or silk take the colouring matter quite easily, cotton, on the other hand needs a complex series of pre-treatments before it absorbs any dye except indigo, with which it bonds naturally. The Indian genius of natural dyeing in historical times lay in their mastery of the pre-treatment of cotton, enabling the production of bright, fast, and washable fabrics which were a byword in ancient times: St Jerome, in the 4th century AD, is said to have remarked "Wisdom is as enduring as the dyes of India".

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