In West Africa, brilliant variations of blue are as likely to be found on land as in the sky or the sea.  Indigo-dyed fabrics are the prized productions of the master artisans of Nigeria and Mali - and the treasured possessions of their proud owners.  The syncopated balance of dyed cloth and unstained shapes gives the impression that indigo textiles were indeed created by human hands without reducing them to a series of humans errors : perfection through imperfection.

 

The value of indigo textiles is commensurate with the rigor of their creation.  Natural indigo dye is extracted from the leaves of plants within the Indigofera genus through a series of chemical processes, including hydrolysis, oxidation, fermentation and precipitation.  After the resulting powder is prepared, it is mixed with other substances that determine the specific tint of blue or purple of the solution.

 

Indigo dye is stored in large vats, sometimes centuries old.  Patterned textiles are prepared using resist methods that require the artisan to prevent the indigo dye from penetrating the fabric by applying ties, wax or stitches.  Dipping these cloths into the indigo vats seems like an artistic leap of faith, but the resulting arrangement of white shapes encompassed by rich color proves the skill of its maker.

 

In Tanzania, everyone looks forward to the arrival of rains, and in the same spirit of eager expectation, we have included indigo resist textiles as a member of our Dry Season collection to remind us of what we have to look forward to.

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