Indigo, The Control Blue Had Over a Pink Empire

Indigofera tinctoria

This dye was being exported from india as early as the 1500’s it was one of the few products that could be exported without encroaching on the trade of British workmen.  Though able to be produced within different regions of America and Guatemala the less turbulent nature of India cause the region to be more profitable. (Sah 67)

As more industrial systems moved into india the traditional form of farmer deciding their crop and working with others to produce the dye was lost, replaced by the british model of factory and larger scale production. (sah 69-70) The transition from landowner into wage worker disenfranchised the indian population forcing bribery and corruption to become the norm, as all workers were given a fixed income and increased legislation was put in place bribery became the normality and thus the peasant classes were forced to pay when they had nothing to start with. (Sah, 73)

The issue with this transition from farmers decision and into regulated crop production is the temperamental nature of the crop itself where simple weather changes greatly affected crop yield and thus fluctuated the price of the dye. (Sah, 77)

Indigo was an important dye produced within India, used to dye products such as cotton wool silk and linen (Watkins) predominantly creating the colour called saxon blue. The plant extract was also able to produce the colour green if deprived of oxygen during the dying process.  After the passing of the Arsenic Act in 1851 Indigo was also used in order to colour Arsenic in order to decrease the likelihood of poisoning. The ratio that this occurred at was 0.5 ounces of Indigo to 1 pound of Arsenic. The law also states that soot is another option but the ration is 1 ounce to 1 pound. (Robb, 182)

This video shows the extraction process done by a company using the traditional method.

Indigo, The Control Blue Had Over a Pink Empire