Indigo is one blue hue that has played an intrinsic part in history and various cultures. In our quest to discover more about this magical colour, DECO unearthed two intriguing books worth adding to your library.
Indigo: The Colour that Changed the World
Catherine Legrand travels the world over twenty years in researching the people and communities that still produce indigo, tracking history through the lives of contemporary artisans. The book explores the production of indigo textiles throughout America, China, India, Africa, Central Asia, Japan, Laos, and Vietnam and features more than 500 colour photographs.
Colour: Travels through the Paintbox
On a journey that takes her to Afghanistan, the Australian outback, ancient caves in China and the saffron harvest in Spain, Victoria Finlay gives an extraordinary and compelling account of the history of colour in her richly colourful book.
Excerpts on Indigo from Colour: Travels through the Paintbox:
‘Indigo’ is a word like ‘ultramarine’ – it refers to where the colour historically comes from, rather than what the substance actually is. So, just as ultramarine is a translation of the Italian for ‘from beyond the seas’, indigo is derived from the Greek term meaning ‘from India’.
Indigo cultivation probably existed in the Indus Valley more than five thousand years ago, where they called it nil a, meaning dark blue.
We think today of indigo as being midnight blue – the colour worn by the navy, or perhaps the colour of jeans, which were originally (after the Bohemian immigrant Levi Strauss invented them during the Californian Gold Rush in around 1850) dyed in France with indigo grown in the West Indies. But as we know from jeans, which can range from stone-washed pale to nearly black, indigo can give many different results.
English dyers used to classify many official shades of indigo, which (from light to dark) included: milk blue, pearl blue, pale plus, flat blue, middling blue, sky blue, queen’s blue, watched blue, garter blue, mazareen blue, deep blue and navy blue.