Prized both for its potent medicinal properties and for the lush, deep blue color that it imparts onto fabrics when used as a dye, native Indian Indigo became widely sought after all over the world. Its earliest origins can be traced to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization that flourished from 2600-1700 BCE. After the rise of cheap, synthetic blue dyes in the late 19th century, pure and natural indigo dyeing slowly fell out of favor. Today, it is once again the King of Dyes with a resurgence in demand for sustainable, natural and eco-friendly textiles.
The extraction process for indigo dye is a complex, labor-intensive process. Experienced workers, who’ve honed their craft through generational knowledge, know just by their eye and their sense of smell when each phase is complete and ready for the next.
Indigo leaves are harvested before its flowers blossom and then fermented in a large pit with a mixture of water. Once this process is complete, the water is drained and used to irrigate fields. The spent leaves are used for composting and improving the soil, creating a zero-waste process. The remaining water and sediment is transferred to another vat to be aerated and to allow the sediment to settle. This solution is boiled and filtered to collect the indigo to form indigo cakes.
Cloth that is used to filter the sediment, is valued as a healing fabric that is infused with the medicinal qualities of indigo. The cloth is given to new mothers in the community to swaddle infants as a way to support the delicate immunity of a newborn. Indigo-dyed and treated cloths are also used to help treat fevers and inflammation; a piece of indigo-dyed cloth is placed under the patient so its medicinal qualities can be absorbed through the skin and provide relief.
Authentic indigo cakes that are completely pure, natural and non-toxic are much more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. Because it is difficult for the average user to tell the difference, many indigo cake suppliers sell products that are marketed as natural indigo but are in fact made from cheaper synthetic sources.
Ayursatwa supports traditional farmers and producers of indigo cakes and sources only the highest quality indigo. We believe that starting with a strong foundation creates textiles and fabrics that bring good health and tremendous value to the wearer, the environment and to the makers who are carrying this knowledge forward.
Our indigo dye baths create indigo hues that range from a soft, cornflower blue to a deep, inky indigo. No mordants are used in our indigo dye bath.