Indigo: The Colour That Changed the World

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Indigo dyeing is a universal practice. The process unfolds in the same manner the world over, involving exactly the same steps: cultivation or wild harvesting of the plant, extraction of the pigment, preparation of the dye bath, and dyeing of the cloth or yarn. The weaver and/or tailor and embroiderer then transform the dyed cloth into garments of sublime beauty.

This book visits those places where the ancient blue-dye traditions still survive and indigo is part of the fabric of everyday life. The journey takes us through villages and markets, to dye studios, second-hand shops and museums of ethnology, following the blue thread that links Japan to Central America via southern China, India and Mali. It transports the reader into the realms of botany and chemistry, of world exploration, commerce and the slave trade, of cultural identity, medicine, folk beliefs, handcrafts and globalization, the universality of techniques and the particularity of fashions.

With more than 500 glorious photographs as well as specially commissioned drawings that provide close-ups on patterns and techniques, this book is the ultimate reference on this age-old dyeing technique.

Catherine Legrand explores the various dying methods behind the colour indigo, travelling through Asia, Africa and Central America to uncover the human story behind the vivid hue.

Thames & Hudson.

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