Deeper Than Indigo – Transcending Time

by Tim

I’d wager that most historians are hooked on history primarily for the thrill of research, leafing through archives, puzzling over old photographs, wandering down side-streets in obscure places in search of long forgotten buildings where the events or people we are researching once happened or inhabited. Publication in the form of articles or books, and presentations in the form of talks or conference papers can be rewarding, but, for me at any rate, they don’t come anywhere close to the feeling of actively being engaged in digging down to find the bedrock of research which belies all our work. It’s a thrill which we often discuss amongst ourselves. It’s quite common for historians on Twitter to post photographs of the doorways to libraries or archives they are about to enter, with a gleeful note of anticipation – saying they are entering for a day of trawling through the archives. “I maybe sometime …” No need to send a search party if I don’t emerge, because I’m happily immersed in my element. The past is a foreign country, and many of us would be more than happy to permanently emigrate there!


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HALI – Indigo Sutra

IMG_2826-1.jpgThe cultivation of indigo dye across the Indian subcontinent is growing. From 9-12 November last year, an international event on the revival and resurgence of natural indigo—Indigo Sutra—was held in Kolkata. It aimed to ‘create awareness of reviving the cultivation of indigo in Bengal and other places where it had stopped due to political unrest or other reasons and also to encourage the use of natural indigo dyeing using natural methods’. Here, its chief advisor and author of three books on indigo, Jenny Balfour Paul, recounts her experience there, ahead of the making of a Channel 4 news programme on the subject this autumn, which came about as a result.

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Indigo Auction

Calcutta sets the scene for the first auction of indigo in more than a century

Indigo was once so widely used to dye everything from military uniforms to muslin frocks that the roads ran blue with it, as in Rajasthan

Indigo was once so widely used to dye everything from military uniforms to muslin frocks that the roads ran blue with it, as in Rajasthan.

The first auction of indigo in India in more than a century took place yesterday in what planters and buyers hope is a resurgence of interest in one of the world’s oldest trading commodities. Ten chests packed with cakes of the blue dye went under the hammer in Calcutta.

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