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The Colour that Changed the World

Catherine Legrand

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The ultimate reference on indigo dyeing techniques across the world


Indigo dyeing is a universal practice. The process unfolds in the same manner the world over, involving exactly the same steps: cultivation or wild harvesting of the plant, extraction of the pigment, preparation of the dye bath, and dyeing of the cloth or yarn. The weaver and/or tailor and embroiderer then transform the dyed cloth into garments of sublime beauty.

This book visits those places where the ancient blue-dye traditions still survive and indigo is part of the fabric of everyday life. The journey takes us through villages and markets, to dye studios, secondhand shops and museums of ethnology, following the blue thread that links Japan to Central America via southern China, India and Mali. It transports the reader into the realms of botany and chemistry, of world exploration, commerce and the slave trade, of cultural identity, medicine, folk beliefs, handcrafts and globalization, the universality of techniques and the particularity of fashions.

With more than 500 glorious photographs as well as specially commissioned drawings that provide close-ups on patterns and techniques, this book is the ultimate reference on this age-old dyeing technique.

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'Presents a beautiful synergy between the visual and cultural … visiting those places where the ancient blue-dye traditions still survive'

'A focus on this infamous dye sends Legrand on a tour of textile practices around the world. With beautiful photography and drawings we get to know traditions like Japanese shibori and Rajasthani block printing'

Product Information

Book Details

Format: Hardback

Size: 26.0 x 29.0 cm

Extent: 288 pp

Illustrations: 510

Publication date: 4 February 2013

ISBN: 9780500516607

Contents List

Introduction • America • China • Europe • India • Africa • Japan • Laos/Vietnam

About the Author

Catherine Legrand is a co-founder of the Théatre du Soleil, for whom she continues to work as a graphic designer. She is also a fashion designer and creator of the French brand ‘À la Bonne Renommée’.

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