Wednesday 9 February 2011


I want to use today's blog to introduce a dyestuff that we are including in this year's collection. Maharangi (Nepalese name) is mainly harvested from the wild for its use in herbal medicine, but we are more interested in the colour it yields. Maharanga Emodi (accepted name in international pharmacology) affords a dye from the root which has been used for centuries for colouring wool & silk. As a medicine, both the roots and flower are used.

The plants are distributed in the alpine Himalayas of Nepal from 3000m to 3900m, it is also found from Garhwal to Bhutan at altitudes of 3500m to 4000m.

Above is a photo of the raw material in root form and also in powder. It requires powdering before boiling and steeping as this helps extract the maximum of colour.

The photo below shows the colour on alum mordanted wool, silk and felt.
Although the colour is beautifully subtle, it was not as we had expected and can obtain very similar colours from other less expensive dyestuffs. It is a dye that we will include for wool and felt, but not silk, hemp or cotton.

Padamchal (Himalayan Rhubarb) is one of our favourite dyes for the strong mustard yellow it produces. The photo below shows an over-dye experiment on silk. The top shawl has been dyed with Padamchal. The middle shawl has been dyed with Maharangi and then over-dyed with Padamchal. The bottom shawl has been dyed with only Maharangi.