Since the beginning of KAL we have been fascinated by the world of natural dyes. The variety of colors is incredible and with the help of a mordant they can be made colorfast.
Here is a little introduction to some of the dyes we use for our Eri silk garments.
JACKFRUIT TREE BARK:
For our yellow shades we use the bark of the jackfruit tree - abundantly available in Assam. The jackfruit is known to be the largest edible fruit. All parts of it and its tree have been used in traditional medicine.
The blue dye obtained mostly from the plant genus indigofera among others is one of the oldest dyes used. Evidence dates back to the Indus civilisation in 3rd millennium BCE. The leaves of the plant contain the color and the blue color appears after in contact with oxygen.
Another very ancient dye plant, madder produces reds. We use the species Rubia Cordifolia, also known as Indian Madder or Manjistha. The dye is found in the roots of the plant and before a first harvest, it takes at least 3 years. Manjistha is also extensively used in Ayurveda.
The only dye we use which derives from the world of animals rather than the world of plants.
It is a resin produced by the insects of the Kerria Lacca family especially in the East. Only female insects produce the resin which gives the dye. They absorb the juice of the trees (more than 71 kinds) and leave the hard resin on the branches of the tree.