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Indigo Dyes

Indigo refers both to the blue pigment used as a dye and to indigo plants of the genus Indigofera. Indigo dye has been used for thousands of years by civilizations all over the world to dye fabric blue. It has been the most famous and most widely used natural dye throughout history and is still extremely popular today as evidenced by the familiar colour of blue jeans.

Indigo Dyes History
Indigo is an ancient dye and there is evidence for the use of indigo from woad or Indigofera from the third millennium BC, and possibly much earlier for woad. A frequently mentioned example is that of the blue stripes found in the borders of Egyptian linen mummy cloths from around 2400 BC. Several sources claim that ancient linen fabrics dyed blue are likely to have been dyed with indigo because indigo was thought to be superior to woad for dyeing linen. Through many years as a dyer, I have found no difference between woad and indigo for dyeing linen. The truth is that it is difficult to ascertain whether ancient blue textiles were dyed with woad or with indigo from Indigofera.