The History of Indigo

Indigo is a natural dyestuff (colour blue) which was historically associated with India, where it was grown and used, hence the name Indigo.
Textiles coloured with Indigo dating back to 2,500 B.C. habe been found in Thebes/Egypt. Herodotus knew of it. In the time of the crusades and after, Venetian merchants purchased it in Cyprus and Syria, to where it had come from India.
When the Spanish conquered Latin America, they found an indigo containing plant indigenous to the continent, probably already cultivated by the precolombian inhabitants. In EL SALVADOR, indigo was grown on plantations, to supply the markets of Europe.
The Dutch and British East India Company imported indigo from the East Indies; in France and parts of Germany, the purchase and use of imported indigo was prohibited to protect the market for home-grown indigo, gained not from proper indigo plants, but from the woad plant, and of inferior quality.
By the middle of the 18th century, the indigo plantations of Central America were in a decline, sugar or coffee replacing indigo on many plantations.

Indigo is what makes the BLUE JEANS blue. Only in 1897 did German chemists of BASF succeed in the synthetical production of indigo.

Trade Products in Early Modern History, from James Ford Bell Library at Univ. of Minnesota, click Indigo

This page is part of World History at KMLA
Last revised on February 16th 2002

Click here to go Home
Click here to go to Information about KMLA, WHKMLA, the author and webmaster
Click here to go to Statistics

Impressum · Datenschutz