Jenny Balfour Paul joined Amrita Mukerji, founder of Sutra organisation, for a week of celebrations at Indigo Sutra, a conference promoting the revival of natural dyes in the textile industry, particularly indigo.
Read more from the Hindu Times:
An exhibition traces the origins of indigo, born in India and loved the world over
The dye that brings the world together
The Greeks called it indikon and the Romans, indicum, eventually indigo in English, all implying the same — from India. True indigo, Indigofera tinctoria, a flowering plant with 750 sub-species is found in the tropics. It produces this distinctive natural dye from its leaves, and is the only organic source of the colour blue in nature. And the Indian subcontinent being the prime supplier of true indigo, the dye was named thus by the Greeks.
Then, Arab merchants took the dye to the Mediterranean and Europe and its rarity gave it a regal aura. Jenny Balfour-Paul, dye specialist and an authority on indigo, says the term ‘royal blue’ came from here.
Balfour-Paul was at Kolkata’s Indian Council for Cultural Relations to speak at Indigo Sutra, a fascinating symposium held there in early November.
“Indigo Sutra has brought together artists, designers, scientists, historians, manufacturers, agriculturalists and more all united by their passion for indigo. The event has been truly multidisciplinary, ranging from engaging panel discussions to sumptuous fashion shows. The Sutra team have considered every detail right down to the hand made indigo-dyed delegate bags. Two exhibitions telling both historic and contemporary stories of indigo have been beautifully curated and showcase spectacular work, while the Grand Bazaar features some of the best artisans practicing in India today. A range of hands-on workshops and demonstrations in combination with tours to actual makers’ studios rounds out the event with practical experience, while evening celebrations have given delegates the opportunity to share their work with fellow indigo advocates from all around the world. The event has been an incredible success – thanks to Sutra for such an educational and inspiring experience.”
Curator, South Asian textiles
Victoria and Albert Museum