Natural dyes are the colorants extracted from naturally available resources like mineral ores and vegetables. Practitioners of this craft are also found in Tamil Nadu. Vegetables are commonly used colouring matter in the form of roots, leaves, barks and flowers. Evidence of dyeing goes back to Neolithic times and thus craft of dyeing with vegetable colours has long been imbibed in the cultures of early civilizations. Natural dyeing has symbolized the traditional practises of craftsmenship – of sustainable relation between the ecosystem and the human civilization. Natural dyes and pigments are used in painting, dying and printing on textiles, on walls, in Ayurveda and cooking among other uses.
It is the dexterity of dyers in India that is famed as they have been renowned for the brilliance of the colours and correct processing of the fabric. The colouring matter extracted from the natural dye matter and which is then in combination with locally available auxiliaries applied on the textile. Mordanting is a crucial precursor to dye absorption as the dye doesn’t have direct affinity with the textile. Locally available resources are used as mordents, while water adds on the unusual differential characteristic to dyeing in different places.