What is color all about? This new magazine explores the depths of color and meaning in textiles around the world.
A small sampling of the latest issue:
The Black of Ghana – West African funeral Couture
“A woman with a bowl of lalle, henna, covered Eurama’s head in a thick past, dyeing her hair a deep black, a vanity now meant to signal the depth of mourning. The mourners formed a somber but spectacular band of decorated blackness, like a flock of exquisit ravens. Their clothes were, down to the last man and woman, ornamented with Adinkra motifs, or subtle layers of design work, deepending the tonal drama of mourning.”
Red – Powerful Protection
In Macedonian folk culture are white, black and shades of red.
“Red has been essential since the earliest human expression of colored mineral pigment on cave walls. It is the color of vitality, fertility and power, associated with both the life giving and dagnerous properties of blood, fire and the sun.”
From Waste to Wardrobe
Old natural dye recipes can turn food waste into color.
“Avocados are a rainbow of pink. Without a mordant the pit all by itself blooms bright pink and other tones. With iron added, the bath runs to rich mauve-grey.,,the high tannin content can turn red on exposure to air. Avocado pit was used in the days of the Spanish conquistadores, to create red ink used in important colonial documents.”
Saffron Robes – Walking Towards Enlightenment
“The Buddha taught his first disciples to make their robes from discarded pieces of cloth found in garbage heaps and cremation grounds. The scraps were sewn together withought patern into a large rectangle, and then the cloth was dyed using plants, leaves, bark, roots, flowers, fruits and sometimes turmeric and perhaps saffron.”
Yellow Gold – Ashanti Royal Cloth
“As far back as 3000 BC a man called Ota Karaban learned the art of weaving by watching a spider weave its web…over the centuries the art was refined to the intricate and labour-intensive strip-weaving technique that emerges from the odd-looking contraptions known as single-heddle looms all over West Africa.
..In Ashanti symbolism, nothing is haphazard..the gleaming yellow base of color of these royal cloths hold the most symbolism. Yellow represents not only the gold of royalty and its associated values of walth and preciousness, but also the vertility and vitality of the yolk of an egg.”
Indigo Blue – Nigeria
“Wearing clothing dyed with indigo represents many things. People in a happy relationship wear indigo clothing to show their love for each other. Also when someone dies we use indigo cloth to show how much the person is going to be missed. The husband or wife, whichever is still living, wears indigo for at least 8 days after the death.
Indigo also identifies who you are. People know what tribe a person belongs to by the designs on the indigo cloth – it is like an ID card.
Indigo is found all over the world, but in Nigeria it comes from a plant we call elu..We collect Elu leaves during the rainy season. They have to be young leaves. We put the leaves in a wood mortar and pound them very fine. After we pound the leaves we prepare water for the dye vat by mixing cocoa ash into it. After we let it settle, we strain the ash from the water and mix it with the pounded elu leaves. The ash adds alkaline to the indio pot – which unleashes the dye substance in the leaves. In Nigeria we use cocoa ash but if you do not have cocoa ash you can use wood ash. The leaves and water sit in the pot for at least seven days. Every morning it must be stirred. By seven days it starts to smell, which is a sign that it is ready to be used.”
Subscribe to Handeye Magazine.