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Sunday, 16 November 2014


In ancient China and Japan Henna dyes were used to stain hair and faces, as well as trace the skin's veins, which enabled the people to summon the majesty of the earth.

Ancient Indian texts described yellow dyes, how to obtain reds from wood and bark of trees and using indigo for blue cotton.

Julius Caesar wrote about the Britons he encountered at Deal and their habit of going into battle naked except for blue body paint, their hair stiffened into spikes wearing just a bracelet or two.

“Briton” comes from the Celtic word “Pretani”, a tribal name meaning “the painted ones” or “the tattooed people”.

The early Britons used to use leaves of the plant woad to dye their bodies blue.

Making a purple pigment used to dye clothes for royalty in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome involved harvesting the pigment from rotting snails. The stench was so bad that Jewish law specifically granted women the right to divorce any husband who became a dyer after marrying.

Pope Paul II introduced in 1464 “Cardinals’ Purple," a scarlet dye made from the Kermes scale insect.

The expression "dyed in the wool" refers to someone fixed in their opinions. The expression dates from 1579 and refers to woolen cloth that is dyed before being spun into threads, so the color is unlikely to fade or change.

In 1856 an 18 year-old chemistry student William Henry Perkin accidentally discovered the first synthetic dye – mauveine. He was using alcohol to clean up some chemical residue when an intense purple colour suddenly appeared. At that time, purple dye was one of the priciest, so Perkin worked out how to produce his new color, patented it and set up a company to produce it.

In the 1860s, due to toxic dyes, the average headdress worn by a Victorian woman contained enough arsenic to poison 20 people.

In 1931, an American chemist, Lawrence Gelb, introduced the first oil shampoo tint. After eight more years of research, he established the first home purchased hair dye. He named his famous company Clairol.

A bright yellow frog species found in Panama will dye your skin yellow when you touch it.

Source Daily Telegraph

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