Indigo has always been used with great expertise on fabric in Asia. In central and western India the ajrakh block printers are considered masters in the art of dealing with indigo. Every handloom variant—be it kalamkari painting, weaving, Jaipuri block printing etc—uses indigo successfully in vastly different ways. Being a hard-sourced natural dye an indigo textile on the shelf always has a higher mark up as compared to other vegetable colours.
Indigo is one of the most versatile colours. People usually associate indigo with blue but essentially indigo can run between the spectrum of very light blue to deep green. With alum it gets grayish blue, harad (or Black myroblan, the widely-used digestive herb that’s also interestingly known in Sanskrit as Haritaki, meaning originating in God’s home) makes it go green and copper sulphate turns it deep blue. It is one of the most exciting colours and can bring in unimaginable shades. A different mordant can change the complete look of the indigo. You can experiment a lot with its dyes.
The indigo plant is a biennial, bearing yellow flowers and bluish leaves. Known as Indigofera Tinctoria or Nila in India, it has a higher indigo content as compared to its variants across the world. To extract the colour, the leaves are crushed into a paste and undergo a series of fermentation and oxidation processes before the dye is obtained. The technology in India, says D. Balasubramanian, was handed down from fathers to sons over the centuries. “In a nation full of castes and communities, each specializing in one art, craft or technology, it was the Kurmis of Bihar and UP, the Kumbis of Maratha and Deccan, the Niralis of Central India, and certain groups of Muslim dyers who have been exponents of this form of medieval biotechnology,” he elucidates.
Our Indigo range of products uses authentic Indigo-dyed textiles sourced from village cooperatives that are keeping alive the traditional art of natural Indigo extraction and dyeing. Every journal comes with a booklet that speaks about the origin, extraction process and the history of Indigo.