We all love to wear indigo color clothes but very rare of us know the history or the story behind this beautiful color called “INDIGO”
If you guys have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you must be knowing about my recent visit to Jaipur. Where i got a chance to spend some quality time at Anokhi Showroom and got to know so much about the history behind the prints, textures and designs. And yes, did some shopping too 😉.
“Anokhi” is known for its distinguished designs, prints, range of colors and product quality. It’s roots lie in Jaipur, a city of skilled craftsmen, a city which introduced hand block printings, dyeing with vegetable colors, traditional textiles and contemporary designs.
Traditionally indigo came from the leaves of the plant “indigofera tinctoria” which was cultivated throughout the tropics. Towards the end of the 19th century, however increasing demand for the dye led to the development of a synthetic version. The only difference between the two being the absence of impurities in the latter.
A typical indigo vat is like a bulging narrow-mouthed pot, 10-15 feet deep and sunk into the floor of a covered area. The contents are like a living organism, and must be continuously nurtured.
When a new vat is started it is filled to about 1/4 of its capacity with a thick sandy dye-liquor that has been retained from a previous vat. Indigo slaked lime, a molasses are added and the whole thing is topped up with water. For the next two weeks the vat is fed daily with these ingredients, until it begins to look and feel ready. Finally, about 20 days after starting, when it is judged perfect dyeing can begin.
In earlier days, to create a pattern, areas of cloth have to be prepared to resist the dye. This is usually done by block printing with a paste that prevents the dye from generating the fabric, but other methods such as tie-dye are also used.
The resist paste is made by mixing earth, slaked lime, gum, a fine powder obtained from the action of insects on stored wheat and water. This mixture is pressed through cloth to give a smooth viscous adhesive paste.
As each length is printed it is dusted with saw dust to stop it from smudging before it ia totally dry. The printed cloth is then dried in the sun before dipping in the vat.
As the cloth is drawn out it looks greenish, but on exposure to the air the indigo oxidises and regains its original blue state.
Each time the cloth is dipped and exposed to the air the darker shade of blue is achieved, often the cloth is reprinted with a different block to reserve patterns in a lighter blue before dipping again.
When the cloth is the desired shade of blue, it is washed to remove the resist paste and any excess indigo that has not adhered to the cloth.
Finally, after about 6 months of use the vat has to be emptied and cleaned due to the accumulation of sand and drift, and the whole process starts again.