Sunday 20th of Jun 2020, Auroville (India).
Immediately, as Pe starts reading the book on Textiles of India’s concluding chapter by Jenny Balfour – Paul, “India’s Trade in Indigo”, he starts writing this post in order to not only record basic concepts, interesting quotes, but also to expand on them, looking at the plants that are mentioned, and so on.
He is amazed to realize about the direct connection between India and the indigo colour, color of the soul, located in the third eye chakra. There is a direct relationship between indigo, soul and India, as the land where spirituality might have started. Deities, soul, consciousness, Bharat, the garden of paradise. Let’s see how the story starts and how this knowledge, this pigment expanded and was traded abroad.
Crill (2006) Textiles from India, Ed. Seagull Books
“Indigo was India’s major dyestuff from antiquity until the mid-nineteenth century, widely used both locally and for export. Although it was already being traded as a luxury pigment to Europe in the Classical and Medieval Ages, the burgeoning spice trade carried on the “East India men” sailing vessels led to increasing quantities of indigo dyestuff (as well as indigo-dyed textiles) being available in the great markets of London, Amsterdam and elsewhere.”, page 357.
“Until the mid-nineteenth century (twentieth, in the case of indigo) the world relied on nature to provide its colors. Yellow dyes are commonplace since the multitude of plants will yield yellows of all shades. Wonderful reds are available in both the plant and animal kingdoms-plant roots include madder (left) and morinda (right)…”
… while cochineal and lac insects provide notable reds. That leaves the other primary colour, blue. The sky and sea may appear blue…
[Intermission note: People have asked why there are pictures of high altitude mountains in the top banner of this blog. Irene, our Auroville friend from french part of Canada, remarked with certainty that the colour, certain colour that appeared in one of this banners was indeed pure indigo].
… but blue colour is unusual in nature and the only natural blue dye that exists is indigo. It is a mysterious dye with a unique chemistry that (unlike most dyes) makes it compatible with any type of fibre. The precursor to the dye lies invisibly in the plant, requiring a chemical transformation to produce the blue colour. Different people found their own methods to affect this miraculous process. Indigo dye was available almost everywhere however because the precursor is found in different species of disparate plant genera worldwide. The ones most involved in the global trade story are the main indigo plants of the tropics, Indigofera tinctoria “, page 359, also known as true indigo (left illustration).
“The etymology of the word indigo encapsulates its global trade history. Its derivation from the Greek indikon (Latinized indicum) meaning ‘something Indian’ indicates its importance in Classical times among the ‘spices’ being traded from the East to the West.
In Classical Europe, ‘stones’ of concentrated dried indigo were imported from India. Such indigo was a luxury item and used alongside other pigments for fresco painting, cosmetics and medicines, as recorded by Pliny, Dioscorides and others. In the Middle Ages too, imported eastern indigo was still used solely for painting, while the textile industry used composted woad. Written records and paint analysis by organic chemists reveal the importance of indigo pigment for medieval artists and craftsmen, such as those employed to decorate the great medieval cathedrals”, page 360.
That’s the application to the arts and architecture 🙂 that we have been so close and exposed to in Europe 🙂 Here is the compound we will be looking at as we hear it is being produced here in Auroville:
but to finalize this post, let me share the photo that we found in this concluding chapter. It is the photo of a lady dyeing fabric in Indigo. It is the photo and the color envisioned as the activity being developed with the transgender community, not only as a vision. It was more like being there, experiencing it. Once again, felt the wet cloth in my hands.
The moment I saw this photo, the same color, the same mordant-printed pattern being dyed in indigo, that moment I was brought back, like a flash to that memory, to that moment in time, to that deep experience.
There are no words to express it, maybe just a music that was playing at that moment would be faithful, true and loyal of what it felt like.
The following is the image that comes with the mp3 piece that is being playing ever since, these days, at Rohini, which includes the same colors that have been experienced lately during Wednesday’s silence (45min meditation before dinner) sessions: blue and dark green.
This is what that experience of indigo dyeing of the past, perhaps of the future, has triggered. Please listen, experience, and connect to, that color deep within, that we are:
Finally we found You.. Om Namah Shivaya, from green to indigo blue, to You. What is the relationship between You and the future Indigo Girl to be conceived?
✨✨ Om Shanti… Continue reading In(digo) 04 ✨✨