Sunday, 11 August 2013

Sources of dye in India

Sources of dye in India*

Indian madder, Rubia cordiofolia – Manjistha, mordant dye for which the use of alum was prevalent. 1 2
Mallotus phillippinensis – Kampillaka, Kampilla (northwest province), no mordant required, yellow until alkaline carbonates or caustic alkalies are applied. “without mordant it does not produce good colour to the silk or cotton fabric.” 1
Oldenlandia – Parpata or jatuka or parpati, Oldenlandia herbacea or Oldenlandia umbellata 1 2
Lac – laksa Coccidae. Insect dye. Also used as a cosmetic 1 2
Kermes – krimi, Kermoccus vermilia formally Coccus iliciscoccidae.Insect dye. Combine with alum to produce scarlet. 1
Conchineal – indragopaka, Coccus cacti. Insect dye. 1
Red ochre – gairika 1, geru 2
Red lead – sindura 1
Achu – Morinda citrifolia 2

Red yellow:
Carthamus tinctorius – kusumbha, Safflower, known as the plant of Gujarat. Produces red and yellow dye. Red dye is soluble in alkaline water and known as carthamic acid. 1  2
Crocus sativus – kunkuma, Saffron. Dye and cosmetic. 1
Sappon wood –Caesalpinia sappan, bakam  2 or patanga or pattanga  1. Wood powder was dissolved in water with alum. 1
Realgar - manahsila 1

Tumeric – Haridra 1, Hadi 2 Curcuma longa. Also used to make blueish yellow. 1
Kamala gundi – Mallotus philippinensis (Orissa).
Indigo – Nila, Nili, Nilika, Indigofera tinctoria. Water soluable and fast. 1
Indigo – Strobilanthes flaccidifolia  2
Lamp Black – Khanjana, Kajjala. Mix with water, gum winba water (azadirachta). 1
Alum mordant and iron 2

Other chemicals mentioned:
Natron – svarjika 1
Lime – curna 1
Salt of Potash – Kaca salt 1
Alum - tuvari 1

*Dyes in Ancient and Medieval India refers to the ‘late medieval period (eighteenth century A.D)’ so caution has been used when determining if dyes would be considered period

1 – Dyes in Ancient and Medieval India. Mira Roy. 1977. Annotated Bibliography of Indian Medicine. Vol 13, No. 2.    Link -
2 – Indian ikat textiles. Rosemary Crill. 1998. V&A Publications. ISBN: 1851772421

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