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dye-list-art - 2/28/00


A list of period plant dyes by Moriel.


NOTE: See also the files: dyeing-msg, mordants-msg, green-art, p-bleach-fab-msg, urine-uses-msg, pigments-msg, painting-msg.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.


Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org




Date: Tue, 30 Jun 98 22:17:16 MST

From: jhartel <jhartel at net-link.net>

To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG


Ok Stefan and others have unknowingly goaded me into getting off my

arse.  I pulled out my copy of "Dye Plants" [ISBN 1-871569-74-5] by John

and Margaret Cannon, illustrated by Gretel Dalby-Quenet, and found these

tid-bits pertaining to dyeing and plants. I didn't put the "scientific"

name but if ya want them then e-mail me. If I have actually experimented

with the plant then I will put an (*) by the name.


1.*Black Walnut-yields blacks to dark-medium browns. Pliny recored the

use of walnut shells in a recipe for keeping the white from one's hair.

Though post period, 1694, THE LADIES DICTIONARY also sites walnut husks

to darken the hair.


2.*Blackberry yields dark to light purple.  I actually used mulberry but

got the same results.  The leaves can be used for browns and blacks.

Roots can give orange or greenish colours.


3. *Brazilwood yields reds/burgundies.  Native to Indonesia it was

transported to China as early as 900BC.  In early midieval times,

1084-1153, reign of Scotland's David 1, the Arabs were importing it to



4.Dyer's Alkanet yields purples.  Native to southern Europe and Middle

East.  Mentioned in Greco-Egyptian papyri as far back as 3rd century AD.

It was used in cosmetics and wine colorants.


5.Elderberries yeilds different colors depending what part you use.

Berries give bluish/purple colors.  Leaves may give gold/grren hues.

Native to most of Europe and England.


6.Fustic yields golds/browns. It is native to tropical America and the

West Indies.  It was reported to have been imported into Europe via

Spain in 1510.


7.Goldenrod yields golds/oranges/browns.  Native to North America there

is a variant in Europe and central Asia.  Two of the common names are

"Aaron's Rod" and "Jew's Rod" which refer to the yellow clothing the

Jews wore during the Middle Ages.


8.Heather yields golds/browns.  Native in Western Europe. It was used

in Scottish tartans in the 1700's, thus I *assume* it would have been

used earlier.


9.Henna yields reds/golds.  Probably native to Eastern India but has

been cultivated in the Middle East and North Africa for centuries.  Used

to dye skin, hair, finger/toe nails, beards and mane and tails of horses

in Ancient Egypt.


10.*Indigo yields blues of many shades.  Native to the tropics.

Mentioned in Idian manuscripts dating from 4th century BC. It was

re-introduced byt eh Arabs in the 11th century to the Mediterranean.

Marco Polo mentioned it.  It came to be banned in Britain and other

European countries because it was taking too much  away from the woad

growers.  If you dye with indigo BE WARNED...it STINKS!!! My husband

won't let me dye with it in the house anymore it smells SO bad.


11.Lady's Bedstraw yields yellowish greens/dark greens. Native of

Europe and western Asia.  In 1652 Culpeper mentioned it in his BRITISH

HERBAL as a a bath fro tired and weary feet.


12.*Logwood yields purples/blacks.  Native of tropical Central America

and northern South America.  Spanish conquistadores in the 1500's  found

it's use in Campeche, a state in Mexico.  They exported it Europe and

was in England by the mid 1500's.  In 1581 a law was passed against it

to once again protect the woad growers.


13.*Madder yields oranges/deep reds/burgundies.  Native to western and

central Asia.   It has been dated as far back as 3000BC from the Indus

civilization.  It is also mentioned in the Bible.  It was grown

extensively in France and Germany in the Middle Ages. From the

100-1700's the Dutch almost monopolized the idndustry.


14. Mahonia yields yellow/greenish tints.  Native to China though

cultivated in Japan.  Linnaeus recorded its use as a yellow dye stuff.

It was also mentioned in a 14th century Austrian manuscript.


15.Munjeet (madder Family, see #13). Yields reds.    This plant was used

in Coptic textiles  of the 6th century.  Added with Indigo its gives a

violet known as "Egyptian Purple".


16. Nettle yields greens/browns and is native to Europe and temperate

parts of Asia.  It was sometimes used in Scotland to produce colors for

Harris Tweeds.


17.*Onions yeild gold/orange/browns. Grown throughout the world.


18.Persian berries (Buckthorn family) yields bright

yellows/golds/oranges/browns.  Native to Europe, Engalnd, much of the

world.  In the Middle Ages it was used to dye clothing and especially

the hats of Jews to distinguish them from the Christians. This is

thought to be a reflection of the yellow turbans which the Persians made

the Christians and Jews wear in the 9th century.


19. Safflower yields yellows/golds.  Native to western Asia.  Egyptian

mummies have been found with safflower dyed bandages. Pliny mentions

the safflower in his NATURAL HISTORY. A red pigment can be obtained

with soda and citirc acid.  Until recently this was how the cotton tapes

were dyed which sealed British offical papers  .  Thus the term "RED

TAPE" in association with governments.


20.Saffron yileds greens/golds.  Cultivated throughout the world.

Persian Emperors wore saffron dyed robes and had documents dyed from it

as well.  the Bible mentions saffron in the SONG OF SOLOMON.  In the

12th century the Arabs introduced saffron to Spain and by the late

Middle Ages it was cultivated throughout Europe.    Used as a hair dye

by ladies of Venice in the late 1500's.


21.Sanserswood yields browns/res.  Native to southern India and

cultivated in the orient.  Marco Polo mentioned it growing on two

islands east of India.  He also talks of it being impotred to CHina.


22.Silver Birch yields oranges/red/browns.  Native to most of Europe.

Tannins in the bark have been used to tan leather.


23. Tumeric yields yellos/oranges/golds/greens. Originated in India but

cultivated throughout the tropis.  It was imported from India nad the

Far East to Europe.  Marco Pols saw it in Bengal and China.  In a

1600,in DELIGHTS FOR LADIES, Sir Hugo Platt describes the color.  It was

reported in Scotland in 1612.


24.Weld yields yellows/gplds/browns.  Native to south-central and

western Europe.   Romans used it for dyeing wedding garmants and the

robes of "vestal virgins".  Pliny cites it being used exclusively for

women's garb.  In the CAPITOLARBIUS DE TINCTORUM OF 1243, the use of

others yellows is forbidden because weld, "was thought to give much more

permanent colours."  It too was used to color the caps worn by Jews.


25.Woad yields blues.  Native to Europe, western Asia and North Africa.

Celtic tribes used woad as a skin dye. The name "Britain" is said to

derive from the Celtic word "brith", which means paint.  It is said that

Glastonbury recied it's name from "glastum", meaning blue.  Woad mills

were common in Elizabethan England.  They smelled so foul HRM forbade

them within 5 miles of any of her estates.


THOUGH NOT A PLANT:  Cochineal yields reds/perples.  It is the female

"Dactylopius coccus", a plant bug that eats on cacti, "Opunita" known as

"prickly pear.  The Spaniards brought it back from Mexico after the

Spanish Conquest.


OK! now I am tired!  Put this where you may...but hopefully somebody

will find some interest in it.



(who is still wondering about the snowball bush in front of her window)


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org