Añil, scientific nameg eneralyrefering to Indigo fera tinctoria, belongs to the pea family and is the source of the beautiful indigo blue color. In Nahuatl it is called jiquitle. The plant is a shrub, growing up to 1.5m in height also used for a blue dye is its close relative Indigofera suffruticosa, which is the species used in Mesoamerica (MexicoandCentralAmerica). Añil was a dye used for clothes of the royalty and privileged classes in pre-Hispanic times. El Salvador and Guatemala had high volumes of production up until the onset of synthetic dye production in Europe. Production also took place in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca, which was a center of regional trade when the Spanish arrived.
Bringing an Ancient Process Back to Life
The Cochineal bug is an insect/parasite that grows on the prickly pear cactus pad. The bug absorbs the carmine that the cactus produces. Also, in order to dye the color, the insect is first collected, then dried and finally ready to be used as a dye. To dye the cochineal; first the wool needs to have a mordent process (fixing the wool, so the colors don't bleed). In this process the wool is boiled together with the mordant in this case alum of potassium (mineral), then the cochineal is ground to powder using a mortar or a ground stone tool. Finally, the cochineal is boiled with the wool for about two hours, afterwards the wool cools down in the cochineal dye for the next 24 to 48 hours.