Welcome to our blog. We hope you enjoy our posts on Peruvian history, archaeology, cultural insights, events such as festivals, and travel tips.

Age-Old Dyeing Techniques

Elvi Bjorkquist - Saturday, May 14, 2016

Artisans Use Age-Old Dyeing Techniques

Peruvians have been creating colorful yarns, threads, and textiles for centuries from the abundant natural plants and insects of the Andes. Although in the 20th Century some artisans used synthetic dyes, there's a rebirth in the use of traditional natural dyes.

Red, the brightest of colors, is a favorite for clothing and other woven products. The dye is made from dried Cochineal, a tiny insect often found on prickly pear cactus.

Orange is often made from the orange bark of the Yanali tree. The bark is chipped into small pieces, boiled, and is fixed with salt.

Peruvians have many ways to produce green dye for their textiles. They use three different plants, Ch’illia which is mixed with a natural chemical compound found in the jungle, or Mutuy, or Nununqa. all indigenous plants.

Purple is made from a hard-to-find mountain plant, uncommon in the Sacred Valley, called Awaypili, and a seed called Mote Mote. Many artisans now purchase their Awaypili at markets.

Blue is often created with a combination of a bean-like pod called Tara, and blue collpa (a local form of copper sulphate) as a fixative. When weavers can find it in the market, they will also use the plant, Indigo, for the color blue.

Many different plants and flowers can be boiled to produce Yellow. The leaves of a Peruvian pepper tree, Molle, also create yellow dye.
On our tours, you will visit markets where the plants, flowers, and dyes are sold. Plus you’ll attend dyeing, spinning, and weaving demonstrations, visit specialty shops selling colorful contemporary textiles, and museums in which ancient textiles will be on display.  Read more about Peruvian textiles
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