What plants did the ancients use to extract the three primary colors

2022-08-18


Nowadays, many of the colorful clothes people wear are dyed and woven with dyes. The ancients probably didn't know what the chemical industry was, and what kind of dyeing and weaving were used for the floral clothes people wore at that time? Let me tell you, many of them use natural plants as dyes. First, use the three primary colors of red, yellow, and blue extracted from these natural plants, and then use these three primary colors to create a colorful blend! Let's take a look at what plants ancient people used to extract natural dyes.
Nowadays, many of the colorful clothes people wear are dyed and woven with dyes. The ancients probably didn't know what the chemical industry was, and what kind of dyeing and weaving were used for the floral clothes people wore at that time? Let me tell you, many of them use natural plants as dyes. First, use the three primary colors of red, yellow, and blue extracted from these natural plants, and then use these three primary colors to create a colorful blend! Let's take a look at what plants ancient people used to extract natural dyes.
Red dye plant
Rubia cordata
Ancient China has long known how to use certain plants to obtain different levels of red. Among them, madder should be the earliest red dye plant to enter human life. The so-called "madder color" refers to the color extracted from the roots of madder. Among the large number of unearthed silk cultural relics, madder dyeing accounts for a considerable proportion, such as the deep red silk unearthed from Han Tomb No.1 in Mawangdui, Changsha, which was dyed with madder.
Madder has a strong vitality and often appears in the mountains, forests, and wastelands in the form of grass climbing vines, which is unforgettable. Because madder and the madder genus it belongs to have a very distinctive appearance - slender and flexible climbing stems with dense rough fur or small prickles on the surface. If you wear shorts and short sleeves to pass through the madder bushes, madder always likes to leave shallow scratches on your skin.
safflower
In ancient times, there was another equally famous dye crop that could provide a brighter red color, which was the safflower of the Asteraceae plant, the genus Safflower. In comparison, the red of safflower is indeed closer to what we commonly call "Chinese red" than the red of madder, and the ancients also believed that the former was a more pure red and called it true red.
But the production technology of true red lagged behind that of madder red for a long time, and its price was also much higher than that of madder red. Extracting pure red from safflower is a very complex and labor-intensive task.
Yellow dye plant
Gardenia
Gardenia is a cousin of Rubiaceae and a member of the Gardenia genus in the Rubiaceae family. It has many nicknames, such as Shuihengzhi, Shanhuangzhi, Huangjizi, Huangguoshu, and so on. From these common names, it can be seen that one of the main uses of gardenia is related to yellow dyes.
When the gardenia enters its fruiting stage, the fruit is green and turns yellow when it matures. Yellow gardenia fruit contains terpene based saffron and flavonoid based gardenia yellow. Among them, saffron and saffron acid can effectively dye wool fibers, while gardenia yellow has a good dyeing effect on protein fibers such as wool and silk. Moreover, gardenia pigment is easily soluble in water, indicating that the preparation process is relatively simple.
Unfortunately, it is easy to color and fade. The gardenia pigment has weak sun resistance, so the biggest drawback of dyeing with gardenia is that it cannot be "exposed". Suitable for dyeing some indoor products and also as a base dyeing for other dyes.
Sophora japonica
When it comes to sophora flowers, perhaps what comes to mind is seasonal delicacies made from them... However, the use of stained sophora flowers here is not the same as eating them. The edible locust flower is an imported species of locust (also known as black locust), originating from the eastern United States; As a dye plant, Sophora japonica is a native tree species in northern China - the Chinese Sophora japonica. It is a cousin of Robinia pseudoacacia, both of which belong to the leguminous family. However, Robinia pseudoacacia is a member of the Sophora genus, while Robinia pseudoacacia is a member of the Robinia genus.
The Chinese locust tree has clusters of yellow and white flowers, fragrant and elegant in shape. It is often used as a roadside tree and an excellent honey source plant. The parts used to prepare yellow dyes are usually bud shaped flowers, resembling rice grains, also known as "Huaimi". The main pigments contained in Huaimi belong to mordant dyes, which require the addition of mordant agents to dye the fabric. The color of the boiled sophora flower dye is orange yellow, similar to that of the gardenia flower dye, but more sun resistant than the gardenia flower. Therefore, after the emergence of the sophora flower yellow dyeing technology, the "yellow dyeing" status of the gardenia flower was greatly reduced.