Natural dyes are dyes or colorants derived from plants, invertebrates, or minerals. The majority of natural dyes are vegetable dyes from plant sources – roots, berries,bark, leaves, and wood — and other organic sources such as fungi and lichens. Archaeologists have found evidence of textile dyeing dating back to the Neolithicperiod. In China, dyeing with plants, barks and insects has been traced back more than 5,000 years. The essential process of dyeing changed little over time. Typically, the dye material is put in a pot of water and then the textiles to be dyed are added to the pot, which is heated and stirred until the color is transferred. Textilefiber may be dyed before spinning (dyed in the wool), but most textiles are yarn-dyedor piece-dyed after weaving. Many natural dyes require the use of chemicals calledmordants to bind the dye to the textile fibers; tannin from oak galls, salt, naturalalum, vinegar, and ammonia from stale urine were used by early dyers. Many mordants, and some dyes themselves, produce strong odors, and large-scale dyeworks were often isolated in their own districts. Throughout history, people have dyed their textiles using common, locally available materials, but scarce dyestuffs that produced brilliant and permanent colors such as the natural invertebrate dyes Tyrian purple and crimson kermes became highly prized luxury items in the ancient and medieval world. Plant-based dyes such as woad, indigo, saffron, and madder were raised commercially and were important trade goods in the economies of Asia and Europe. Across Asia and Africa, patterned fabrics were produced using resist dyeing techniques to control the absorption of color in piece-dyed cloth. Dyes from the New World such as cochineal and logwood were brought to Europe by the Spanishtreasure fleets, and the dyestuffs of Europe were carried by colonists to America. The discovery of man-made synthetic dyes in the mid-19th century triggered the end of the...
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