Indigo Blue

We wear clothes every day, and never think of their colours in terms of how they come to being.

Last Friday I visited a person who made living by producing silk and indigo dying. Far into the mountains of Fujino, Kanagawa, he lives in an old farmhouse with a lovely dog, Snoopy. He is a fountain of knowledge.

He showed me various things about his textile creation. He demonstrated how to dye using a piece of Taisho-old cloth. A magic was taking place in front of my eyes.

He holds the cream-white cloth between his fingers, and dips it into the indigo dye, which has been fermenting in an enormous pot for the last 18 months, leaves it immersed for a few moments and pulls it up, all the time holding it lovingly, and it goes down again.

Repeating this process 5, 6 times, and the colour of the cloth gradually assuming green-yellow – not yet that indigo blue.

The cloth had been prepared with a rice-glue to make patterns on it, which was barely visible before the dying process because of its colour being almost the same shade of cream-white.

He takes it to a washing sink, and rubs the cloth between his hands under running water to wash off the rice glue. There suddenly appears a piece of textile with whirls in swallowingly-deep blue, so crisp and some assertions. A magic.

Colours make our lives sensational. On the surface of the indigo dye, I felt I saw a whole world of blue enticing the visual senses inside me.


About Dr Kats

a working sociologist/linguist/translator based in Kobe, Japan
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