Natural Dyes

The use of natural dyes is traditional to all artisan communities. In our hills also this skill has existed in the Shauka community for a long time. However, in today’s reality of mass produced, cheap, chemically dyed products, this skill has diluted and is slowly disappearing due to decreased availability of dye materials leading to higher costs and depleting markets. Traditionally, the color palette in natural dyes was limited to browns, yellows and pink.

Natural dyeing at AVANIAvani’s work has revived this skill of natural dyeing in our area through intensive training inputs and an increased color palette. We are now producing an entire color range in brown, yellow, orange, red, blue, violet and green. We are coloring natural fibres like wool, silk, pashmina and linen with locally available dye plants. Only for blue and red we need to import natural indigo and shellac from other parts of India .

Over the past seven years, our work has involved research and experiments with a lot of local plants. We have experimented with more than fifty plants of our area and have identified the dye yielding properties in them. Some of these plants are seasonal, some are not plentifully available or the colors are not stable. In view of these factors, we try to work only with plants that are plentifully available locally and the color is stable.

We are now working with the cultivation and harvesting of dye yielding plants as a livelihood options. For example, our women’s groups are now cultivating turmeric where the surplus crop they would sell for use as dye material.

The introduction of energy efficient devices like solar driers for drying dye materials and solar water heaters for pre heating of water, has helped conserve fuel.

Color names
names of plants
Example plants

Yellows

Turmeric
Marigold
Pomegranate Rind

Turmeric plant Turmeric

Greens and Mustards


Soapnut
Eupetorium

Onion Skin

Soapnut plant Soapnut

Browns and Beiges

Walnut
Catechu
Tea leaves

Walnuts Walnut

Oranges

Flame of forest
Madder
Majethi

Flame of forest Flame of forest

Blacks

Myrobalam
Hisalu leaves

Myrobalam Myrobalam

Blues

Indigo

Indigo plant Indigo

Reds and Violets

Madder
Shellac

Madder Madder