Natural Dyes: How Tricolor Dyes Were Obtained In The Past

For Italy this year, and more particularly this week, have been very important. To honor the victory of the “Azzurri” too, we have decided to retrace the history of the colors of our flag (green, white and red) but in a fashion key.


Symbol of hope, this color, being a secondary color, in the past as well as today was obtained by mixing blue and yellow together. The yellow was obtained from the Zafferanone or Safflower plant, which was used by the ancient Egyptians to dye the bandages of mummies.

Another yellow dye used in the past was Chamomile for dyeing, with a bright and solid color.

Of ancient origin but used until the appearance of synthetic dyes, Reseda Luteola is a plant grown in the Mediterranean. The yellow color is obtained from all its parts.

In ancient times, blue was made from the indigoifera Tinctoria plant from which Indigo, the dye par excellence for denim, was obtained.

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Color with a thousand meanings (fire, anger, passion, love) red is one of the oldest colors for clothing.

One of the first appearances of this color on clothes dates back to the 1st millennium BC, of ??which the Phoenicians were the major producers.

Purple is a dye produced by the secretion of some molluscs that in ancient times were found in great abundance in the shallow waters of all the coasts of the Mediterranean.

Subsequently, starting from the Middle Ages, wearing red was a symbol of wealth. The dyes that produced the red came from roots but above all from the cochineal, a small insect that abounded in a type of cactus that grew in Mexico. It was then discovered that the mealybug larvae could be crushed and dried to obtain a dye of a bright and lasting shade of red.

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White, a symbol of purity, was not a color obtained from natural dyes, as most of the fibers used for weaving (various types of wool, cotton, linen, silk) are naturally characterized by shades of this color.


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