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"COLOR was anciently considered a spiritual necessity of equal importance to physical need of food, for all primitive people used it to protect themselves from the spells of ever-active evil spirits which they believed constantly surrounded them. This form of Magic is older than a belief in gods, and, at a very early stage, magical symbols were added to former mere daubs of dye, and here we have the ancient origin of art." - Reference: William F. Leggett, Ancient and Medieval Dyes.

Mushroom Dyed Wool Samples, Arleen R. and Alan E. Bessette Colour Ring of Wool Samples dyed with mushrooms © Arleen R. and Alan E. Bessette, The Rainbow Beneath My Feet or A Mushroom Dyer's Field Guide.   Until the middle of the 18th century, every piece of material used for clothes, carpets, or household purposes was dyed with natural dyes. The colour richness and brightness of some of the ancient Peruvian and Egyptian textiles are astonishing. Except extracts from plants, lichens and seaweed, the other sources to obtain a dyestuff were also used: shell-fish, scale insects, minerals, etc.

In Peru, Eucalyptus leaves is an ancient dye. In Australia, the idea of obtaining natural dyes from Eucalypts came from Henry Smith. In 1897, he used a dye from this plant to dye woollen material. Examples of fabric dyed by him are held in the Museum of Applied Arts and Science, Sydney.
One of the best dyestuff can also be obtained from very mature to decaying fungal fruiting bodies of mushrooms. For example, mature Sarcodon underwoodii yield rich shades of blue and green and the best tones of orange and pink are obtained from the most decayed, red portions of Hypomyces lactifluorum.

Ontario Mashroms for Dyeing »
Books: Dyeing, Colour Theory »

Rose Petals   Rooibos   Egyptian Camomile   Mekong Cinnamon
Photography © Irene & Mr.Sheep® Co and Wise Tea Garden ®

Some of the most important plant dyes, which survived to ancient and medieval times, are still recently in use: madder, indigo, saffron, safflower, brazilwod, longwood, fustic, annato, and many others. Please find more infomation here: Natural Ancient and Medieval Dyes Presently Imported or Manufactured in Europe »

Photography © Irene & Mr. Sheep Co. Our ideas, designs, and photography are copyright protected. Please do not use the visual content without our prior permission.   PERUVIAN HAND SPINNER AND DYE ARTIST, NATURAL PERUVIAN DYES
Photography © Inna Podziguhn,

Natural dyes used to color wool in Peru: Dried and powdered cochineal insects produce natural carmine dye. It is used to colour wool in hues of Red and Pink. These insects live on the pear cacti plants. {Carmine & Cochineal »}
Oranges - yanali bark, calendula/merigold flowers; Yellow and Orange - q'olle flowers; Coral, Peach and Salmon Red - palo-palo vines; Hues of Blue - tara beans, indigo. Eucalyptus leaves are used to make a beautiful Silver Blue hue. Greens - ch'illca (chilq'ua) leaves; Purple is derived from purple corn (mais morado). The variety of natural dyes in Peru usually depends on the region.

For more information, please visit: • Threads of Peru »Center For Traditional Textiles of Cusco »Cloth Roads »

Safflower Petals   Lavender   Khartoum Hibiscus   Calendula Petals
Photography © Irene & Mr.Sheep® Co and Wise Tea Garden ®


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