Indigo has been on my mind a lot recently. I finally got around to reading Jenny Balfour-Paul’s classic book Indigo in the Arab World (Routledge, 1997) and ten days or so ago I returned from a brief trip to Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso where I had passed an enjoyable week looking around for more Mossi indigo wrappers. These soft faded old cloths are among the best sellers in our shop (cushions made from them can be seen in the Andalusian estate on the cover of October 2012 issue of World of Interiors.) Since then the post from Burkina has been bringing large bags of the cloths in their various shades, recalling Balfour-Paul’s wonderful list - in eighteenth century Europe “dyers classified indigo colours into thirteen separate shades, beginning with the lightest: ‘milk-blue, pearl-blue, pale-blue, flat-blue, middling-blue, sky-blue, queen’s blue, turkish-blue, watchet-blue, garter-blue, mazareen-blue, deep-blue, and very deep or navy-blue (or ‘infernal blue’).” (page 117.)
On our cloths it is years of rigorous hand washing and drying under the fierce Saharan sun that have created the range of shades rather than the initial dyeing.
In the mid-C20th postcard above the cones of thatch cover the indigo dye pits to maintain them at the correct temperature. Two indigo wrappers may be seen hanging at the right of the figures.
Click on the images to enlarge.
For some of the Mossi wrappers and other of our vintage indigo cloths for sale click here.