(Views expressed in this article are the personal opinion of the Author, a narration of her experience.)
Indigo, the world's only natural blue dye, is the most universally valued. Found on archaeological textiles of all the great civilisations, whether of Ancient Egypt, China or South America, or Iron Age Europe, its exotic history stretches back more than four thousand years. Indigo's story touches on most aspects of life: history and geography; botany and agriculture; chemistry and physics; politics and economics; trade and industry; ethnography; clothes and furnishings; applied arts; medicine and cosmetics; and folklore and music. It is woven into such legendary figures as the Hindu god Krishna and even 'Bluebeard' himself.
The story continues into the twenty-first century, not only because indigo dye is essential for the most universal of all fashion items, blue jeans, but also with the search for more ecologically sustainable dyes, paints and medicines. Indigo's global connections are also being recognised and pioneered as a model to engage students in inter-disciplinary education.
This article was originally presented at the "12th Biennial Symposium", Textile Society of America, 2010, and published at University of Nebraska, Lincoln. (http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/8/)