The Ancient Technique of Dyeing Textiles Using Medicinal Herbs

Since the dawn of civilization, clothing has been a very prominent part of living standards. In previous times, leaves and another kind of plants were used for covering up the body and with the advancement of time and the discovery of key resources, clothes were being developed using fibres. The kind of clothes that we are wearing today are the results of chemical stitching, which is done in factories. Although those clothes are indeed very strong and can be worn for longer durations, they sometimes contain certain elements which damage the skin.

 

When we take a look back, at the lives of our ancestors, we will find certain teachings, some practices that although are not being practised today but had numerous benefits, and for our namesake, that knowledge is available, thanks to the sacrifices of our previous generations.

We will be discussing Ayurvastra, the natural way of dyeing and making clothes; this process was utilized by the effective use of specific medicinal herbs.

 

Ayurvastra- Centuries’ Old Tradition

 

 It is a widely known phenomenon that our ancestors spent better lives than us, well I am not talking about the abundance of facilities we have today, the lives they had were stress-free and most importantly without any diseases. Reports also suggest this that they lived more than 100 years and it indeed is true. How did this happen actually, did they use any magic? The answer to these questions is Ayurvastra- this is a centuries-old technique that was used to craft clothes using different kinds of herbs. Their mixtures were used to dye clothes, and in the process, it made them more resilient and beneficial.

If you visit museums, then certain clothing specimens can be obtained, the fact that they made through after all this time, shows the prowess and audacity of the techniques our forefathers used. This process that they used was also deemed as herbal dyeing because the main ingredients were indeed herbs mixed with secret techniques. Ayurvastra made lives more comfortable, even in those times where diseases and plagues weren’t that much common, if used correctly in today’s time, the benefits it could do are limitless.

Speaking of origins, this ayurvedic dyeing emerged in ancient India when science and nature were being combined. What was the process? Clothes at that time were made from freshly picked cotton, and wool, even jute, and other mediums were used. As technology wasn’t advanced at that time and people had to make these clothes themselves manually in the confines of their homes. Special looming machines were used which were made from wood and threads. These medicinal practices used to be professionally carried out before the actual advent of technology, especially in India. Seeing its benefits, the centuries-old techniques are still be effectively utilized in some areas. People have seemingly made careers out of these practices and are earning a decent amount of revenue.

 

Secrets Resurrected

 

Like all good secrets, this technique too was lost to the sands of time. Although due to persistence and determination of some Indian scientists, its secrets were uncoveredwhen a team came in contact with some ancient texts which were passed down from a generation of monks in northern and southern India. The textswere then digitally inspected, using the help ofskilled linguists and some historical teachers, the practices and methods were made known.

In the texts, certaininstructions were givenas to how the products should be made and in the time ahead what benefits they would provide. The actual Ayurvastra process is takeninto play by using more than 25 distinct herbs. All of these herbs have natural healing powers that are then combined to make everyline of clothing. The texts have been improvedupon using the technologies of the modern world, tosolve the problems that the 21stcentury is facing many clothing manufacturers are using the ancient techniques.

The problems that exist today are numerous; someare either human-madewhereas some are mainly the reactions of nature. For example, the clothing industries that are tirelessly indulgedin the process of making manufacturing often emit dangerous gases that harm the surrounding areas. Radiation poisoning can occur; infact, global warming is one of the reactions of the severe industrialization the world has indulged in.

How does Ayurvastra tendto make a difference here? The process is mainly handled using human labor, there is no need for theuseof the machineryof any kind, and even a simple looming instrument can be set up in homes for the production of these environmental-friendly clothes.

Considering its popularity among various countries especially Europe, this technique is going to be implemented and used all over the world. How so? The license forusing these practices have been boughtfrom the Government of India. Although knowledge should be free, in this case, sometimes it is better to protect national treasures rather than just selling them off. Famous clothing lines like Levi’s, Tommy Hilfiger, and Gucci will be utilizing these fabrics for their product development.

 

The Actual Process of Ayurvastra

 

Just as the modern day clothes are passedthrough certain key stages for preparation, theayurvedic clothes too have these processes, although they are broken down into threecategories which are: Bleaching, Gumming,andDyeing.

The first stage seemingly is the bleaching one, although this part has faced some controversies, the users are not getting demotivated from its usage. The fibers that have to be usedare mixedin a variety of herbs and animal feces (Literally!) the European countries have found certain loopholes to this situation, butthe originalideas still exist. After mixture, the combination is strengthened using exposure to heat or dry areas.

Afterward, toapply color to these clothes, a variety of herbs are used in the mashedform. The choice of these herbs is in the hands of the user; thisprocess is just for coloring purposes. For example, the rose petals can be used to give a velvety texture. The after-product is finally dyedin herb water.

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