Searching for Indigo in India: Countdown to Travel

It’s a 24-hour flight from California to New Delhi, not including the layover in Tokyo. I’m getting ready for a month of travel, focused mostly on the India State of Gujarat, with my Canadian friend Fay Sims, leaving San Jose on November 15.

Indigo dye pot, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

Indigo dye pot, Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, Mexico

My motivation to go to India is multi-fold:

  • to experience first-hand indigo dye history, artisanry and textiles
  • to visit my first cousin, Odissi dancer Sharon Lowen, who has lived in New Delhi, India for 43-years after leaving the USA on a Fulbright

Sharon Lowen’s Odissi Dance in Swarnakamalam…by kasuvandi

  • to embrace my 99-1/2 year old aunt, my mother’s younger sister, who now lives with my cousin
  • to reconnect with friends, textile artist Nidhi Khurana and her painter-muralist husband Ruchin Soni
  • to compare and contrast the textiles of Oaxaca and Gujarat
Eric Chavez Santiago at the indigo dye pot

Eric Chavez Santiago at the indigo dye pot (happy birthday, Eric)

  • to write and photograph the processes and people
  • to get yards of hand-spun cotton Khadi cloth, Ghandi’s symbol of India’s independence from England
  • to discover who knows what else!
Variations of indigo blue, depending on wool color and number of dye dips

Variations of indigo blue, depending on wool color and number of dye dips

Natural Dye and Textile Study Tour, One-Day in Oaxaca

My friend, master weaver Federico Chavez Sosa, asked me to bring him back a chunk of native India indigo to experiment with. My friend, master weaver Alfredo Hernandez Orozco, asked me to bring him any type of native India fiber to experiment with on his flying shuttle loom. They are innovators.

Indigo blue shirts are first made with natural manta cotton, then get four dye dips.

Oaxaca: indigo blue shirts on natural manta cotton, with four dye dips

I am going with one empty suitcase, the second half-full.

What advice do you have for me on the quest for India textiles with natural dyes in New Delhi, Gujarat state and Mumbai?

Example of indigo block print from India, on cotton and silk cloth.

Indigo block print on cotton and silk, from India

Indigo block print on cotton and silk, from India



15 responses to “Searching for Indigo in India: Countdown to Travel

  1. So happy for you, Norma! Can’t wait for your impressions!

  2. What a wonderful adventure you will have!! Bon voyage!! Looking forward to seeing lots of photos! So lovely to be able to experience so much vicariously through you!! Thank you!

  3. I went to India 20 years ago in search of Indigo. I found much, much more than that. India claims to be the home of Indigo – although many other varieties flourish throughout the planet. Norma – you will find as I did that much of the indigo is not the true fermentation process or is assisted synthetically – and in the end the best indigo dyeing I have ever found is in your own backyard in Teotitlan del Valle! In the meantime you will have a wonderful adventure on this journey of discovery. I note that you are after organic yarn and I will email that info to you. I look forward to reading about your journey! Travel well and travel safely.

    • Dearest Carole, you are an amazing India textile expert, resource and travel leader. I appreciate all you have advised me to make this a memorable journey. I hope that my readers will contact you if they are interested In Traveling with you to India. I am so grateful to you.

  4. Can’t wait to read your blog posts!
    Have a fabulous trip and safe journey,

  5. I spent three amazing weeks in 2008 in India, most of it in Rajasthan. Our small group was led by California artist Carol Summers who is an avid collector of vintage and antique Indian textiles. We spent many blissful hours digging through stacks of textiles all over Rajasthan. It was bliss. We did spend two days in Ahmedabad in Gujarat and I highly recommend the Calico Museum of Textiles. I can’t wait to read your posts and see your photos. Happy travels!

  6. You rock, sister. Have a glorious trip!

    PS. Where can I get the indigo shirts in Oaxaca?

  7. Wish I was there with you.

  8. sounds like an awesome trip. can’t wait to hear all about when we meet you in oaxaca. safe and inspired journey.


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