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Natural Dyes

Weavers from different cultures of Alor, Indonesia, utilized natural dyes to color cotton threads previously. Presently, synthetic dyes, pre-dyed threads, and other types of yarns are available in the local markets, and many women use these materials to weave.

Some Alurung women from Buaya and Ternate Islands and living in Sebanjar Village, Northwest Alor, opposite these small islands continue to use natural dyes. Morinda, creating red to reddish-brown colors, joins indigo blue as the two primary dyes of Alurung weavings, similar to other Indonesian textiles. Turmeric and cockspur thorn produce yellow shades while sappan wood creates pinks and purples. Weavers utilize an array of colors from different trees, including the roots of the mangrove tree and leaves of the bellyache bush.

Over-dyeing or top-dyeing refers to dyeing threads in one vat and then a different one. A weaver dyes yarns with indigo and then sappan wood for purple. Or, threads first dyed with turmeric and then over-dyed with indigo produces a green. 

Alurung weavers have also developed dye recipes using marine life such as sea hares, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and sponges as primary ingredients. More information about specific dyes will be found in Stories.

Tropical Almond
Sea Cucumber
Sappan Wood
Indigo top-dyed with Sappan 
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