Threads Of Life



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The two principle colors in Indonesian traditional textiles are a red from the roots of Morinda citrifolia and a blue from Indigofera tinctoria. The historic popularity of these two dyes has been due to their good fastness to light and washing. Performed properly, the recipes for these dyes result in colors that are more colorfast than most synthetic dyes. However, any dye will degrade and fade under excessive exposure to UV light or washing with inappropriate detergents containing bleaches and whiteners.


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Unfortunately, the production time for a textile makes taking specific orders impractical. Making a textile takes between 18 and 24 months, as all the production steps are seasonal in nature. The Indigofera tinctoria blue dye is available in the months after the monsoon season. The oiling and mordant processes for the red dye take many weeks and require the relatively low humidity of the dry season. The Morinda citrifolia roots for the red dye are best harvested in the dry season also. And weavers avoid the humidity of the monsoon as their warps stretch under the tension of the loom and their motifs go out of registration. It is not possible to perform all of these steps in one dry season, so usually a cloth is completed over the course of two years.



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