Where does the indigo color come from? India. Since when? Since forever. You can still find some natural indigo dyes, made out of tropical plants such as the indigofera, but most industries now use synthetic pigments (e.g. for blue denim jeans). To know everything about this fascinating pigment, read Etsy blogger Linzee’s post: Out of the Blue: The Story of Indigo (extract below) and watch BLUE ALCHEMY: Stories of Indigo, an award-winning documentary by Mary Lance.
A word from Linzee
‘I’d venture to say there’s no color that conjures iconic clothing, honor, and emotion quite like blue — think blue jeans, true blue, and feeling blue.
For centuries, the color has been significant to cultures around the world, and for most of that time there was only one way to produce rich, blue fabrics: with the plant-based dye indigo. […]
Indigo’s centuries-long history can be traced back to 5000 BC.
‘It is an integral part of the dying traditions in India, which is believed to be the oldest center of indigo cultivation in the Old World,’ says Anne George of Fabric Treasury. ‘India was a primary supplier of indigo to Europe as early as the Greco-Roman era.’
Indeed, Europeans craved the rich color, and trade in indigo was so profitable that it was sometimes called Blue Gold.
Colonization of African countries and India gave Europeans ready access to indigo, and armies dressed in indigo-dyed uniforms (‘navy’ blue) sometimes fought to protect indigo supplies and production facilities.
However, with the introduction of synthetic indigo in the mid-1800s, plant-based indigo lost its importance and production and dying lessened’
Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo
‘What is indigo? It is a blue dye that has been in use worldwide for millennia; a vibrant color laden with symbolic meaning; a commodity that was once central to international trade and colonial economies; and the reason blue jeans are blue.
‘Blue Alchemy: Stories of Indigo’ is a feature-length documentary about indigo, a blue dye that has captured the human imagination for millennia.
It is also about people who are reviving indigo in projects that are intended to improve life in their communities, preserve cultural integrity, improve the environment, and bring beauty to the world.
The documentary was filmed in India, Japan, Bangladesh, Mexico, El Salvador, Nigeria, and the USA.’