The only living colour

What makes Indigo different from other natural colours? All natural colours are extracted from natural sources. Reds and oranges from madder roots or flame of the forest, yellow from turmeric, marigold and pomegranate rind, browns and beiges from walnut, catechu, tea leaves and blue from the indigo plant.

For most of these colours, the method of making the dye is similar. The raw material say pomegranate rind or marigold is sun-dried and powdered or cut after soaking in water. This powder is then boiled in water for couple of hours and the colour is extracted.

Asian Paints team met up with a few dyers of natural Indigo and the one thing they all seemed to echo was the fact that ‘indigo is different’. Story of the living colour revealed itself when we enquired further into this claimed uniqueness.

There are two parts to making Indigo. Part one is harvesting the plant and extracting the colour though a long process of oxidization and reduction. Indigo cakes thus made is then stored to be used through the year.

Part 2 is making and sustaining the vat. This part is what makes it the only living colour.

When we speak to the dyers, they often speak about Indigo as if it were a person. Not one, but all of them. We found it quite fascinating, the language they used around this colour.

‘You need to look after the vat like a child- wake him up every morning, churn it a bit, give him food from time to time, nurture and give him a lot of love’ said one of them.

Another said, ‘Taking care of a vat is like taking care of a child from birth till it’s grown up years. In the first few months after birth, mother has to be constantly with her child, this attention reduces over time when the child grows strong and self-reliant.

The same applies for the vat. Initially, one has to be constantly with it but with time and years it can be lesser’, says another.

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