Natural dyeing

The term “natural organic dyes” refers to dyes obtained from certain dye plants, dye insects and snails in the genera purpura and Murex. The use of dyestuffs and pigments from the roots, stems, leaves, flowers and fruits of plants is as old as humanity itself. The use of dye plants is known from wall paintings and the dying of textile fibers dating back to 4000 years B.C. However after synthetic dyestuffs were discovered in the early 20th century, the use of dye plants began a decline that brought it to the brink of disappearing entirely. When it was determined in the 1980s that a large percentage of synthetic dyes were toxic, carcinogenic and/or led to environmental pollution, natural dying once again gained importance. This resulted in several national and international projects on the subject; however only a limited number of these projects met with success. With one of the richest natural flora in the world, Turkey also has the largest number of natural dye plants in the world. For this reason, this rich palette of natural dyes was used in all types of textiles in the Seljuk and Ottoman Empires. One of the reasons that these incomparable works are so admired in museums in Turkey and throughout the world is undeniably the important contribution of natural dye plants.