Turkey and Madder Red

image of hand embroidery thread

I found a couple of articles on the history of red dye which I think some readers will find of interest.

This teaser quote is from Turkey Red in Blackley: A Chapter in the History of Dyeing by W.H. Cliffe

“Among the natural dyestuffs available to the dyers of the eighteenth century, madder root held pride of place both for fastness and versatility. According to the mordant used, a whole range of shades could be produced on cotton, from pink through purple and brown to nearly black. But there was one shade, the most valuable of them all, a brilliant and solid fiery red, which could only be dyed in India and the Near East. British and French dyers could not imitate it, and it was so much sought after that cotton yarn would even be sent to the Levant for dyeing, and re-imported. The colour was known as Turkey Red, or sometimes Adrianople Red.”

A second article on the use of Madder can also be found on this site.

“A couple of seasons ago one of the most popular fashion colours in Europe was Madder Red. Few must have known, however, about the fascinating origin of this name. Certainly it had nothing to do with demented colour chemists, fashion designers, mad hatters, or, for that matter, historians of chemistry! It was in fact one of the most important textile colorants used in the Industrial Revolution. It was also, in the form of Turkey or Adrianople Red, a triumph of Islamic technology.”

Madder Red-A Revolutionary Colour by Anthony S. Travis is not as long an article but tells the story and situates well the use of Madder as a dye.

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