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Praise for the U.K. edition: Thoroughly satisfying. -- Crafts

All those working with indigo or merely interested in the cultural history of that dye must read this book. -- Textile Forum
Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans tells the compelling story of the world's oldest and best-loved dye, the iconic blue behind one of the world's ubiquitous fabrics: denim. Brilliant photographs and eloquent text describe the process of making indigo dye from plants and how indigo is used. It weaves stories of indigo's producers, its cultural traditions and history, its importance in global trade, and the modern textile artists and fashion designers who are reviving indigo for sustainable development. The book covers:
  • Indigo's history, dating to ancient times
  • The botanical sources of indigo, including woad
  • Uses of indigo in traditional medicine and religious practices
  • The chemistry of indigo and the technology used to extract it
  • Production and dyeing methods
  • The commercial indigo industry, past and present
  • The health consequences of making indigo
  • Modern and future applications of indigo
  • Indigo's continuing appeal and the iconic blue jean
Indigo tells fascinating stories from the history of the dye, such as the recent discovery of 17th-century Spanish galleons in the Caribbean carrying hundreds of chests of raw indigo, which the author successfully used to dye 21st-century fabrics.
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About the Author

Jenny Balfour-Paul, an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Exeter and a Fellow of both the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club, is a partner in "Silk Road Connect," an exciting educational initiative of Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project. She is also a Councillor and Trustee of the Royal Geographical Society and President of the UK Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. A renowned authority on indigo, Jenny has been publishing, lecturing, exhibiting and broadcasting on dye and related subjects for well over twenty years.


Historical reflections on the cultivation, use, and politics in this world of blues--from India to Palestine to the Solomon Islands to Nigeria.... Stunningly illustrated and richly researched, Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans tells the history of the dye set against the backdrop of an industrial world.--Julie"Foreword Reviews" (03/06/2012) This beautifully illustrated volume presents many details on the history, creation, use and significance of indigo dye.... Balfour-Paul communicates her fascination with indigo, and the many compelling photographs are a treat.--Kathryn Wekselman"Library Journal" (08/01/2012) (review of UK edition) (reviewed with Madder Red) Both books combine practical wisdom with a tireless search for historical evidence in print, documents, textiles and photographs, and both deal with the use of the dyes in textiles, paints, and medicines, though their emphases differ. Both have abundant and varied illustrations, but Chenciner's are in black and white, whereas Balfour-Paul offers a magnificent selection in colour...The ramifications of dye-plants are endless, and these two books open up innumerably alluring pathways, not yet explored to their ends.--Joan Thirsk, emeritus reader in economic history,"Times Higher Education" (02/01/2001) (review of UK edition) Indigo: Egyptian Mummies to Blue Jeans is the definitive work on the dye, tracing its exotic history from the times of the ancient Pharaohs to the present day. Indigo, first published in 1998 by The British Museum Press, has a recently updated last chapter that focuses on sustainability and the environment in the 21st century, and looks at how the dye is once again growing in popularity thanks to an increased demand for organic clothing made from eco-friendly materials. It is far more relevant today because synthetic dyes made from toxic ingredients and used by the textile and fashion industries are creating a large amount waste that is polluting the planet. Natural indigo is made from plants and is a non-toxic product that enriches the soil. In hotter climates indigo can be farmed in rotation with other crops, or on waste land, and it also provides employment in rural regions. Currently, one of Jenny Balfour-Paul's projects is to encourage worldwide revivals of sustainable natural dyes. The book is beautifully illustrated with over 435 images that show how the dye has featured in different cultures and communities throughout the world. Jenny's experience as a batik artist and teacher is evident in her exploration of how indigo has been portrayed in folklore and through art, exemplified by some stunning photographs of textiles. Indigo has been the symbol for a diverse range of beliefs, highly prized in some cultures, for thousands of years. Strongly associated with wealth, fertility, rites of passage and even in mourning ceremonies, indigo has always been a desirable commodity. Nothing is left out that anyone with an interest in the development of indigo could possibly want to know, from the agricultural and botanical origins to the commerce and economics of the dye.--Jo Wyndham Ward"Jo Wyndham Ward Blog" (10/25/2011) [An] extraordinary book.--Sumana Roy"Warscapes Magazine" (10/06/2014) The essence of indigo as a commodity is captured perfectly by Jenny Balfour-Paul. http: // Ensbury"Chocolate Food of the Gods Blog" (04/13/2014)

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