Known as the “King of Dyes,” “Devil’s Dye,” and “Blue Gold,” indigo (Indigofera tinctoria) in the Indian subcontinent can be traced back to 2nd millennium BCE. Shelly Jyoti’s exhibition, titled “Indigo: The Blue Gold” is a mid-career retrospective of Jyoti’s investigation into the subcontinent’s 18-19th century colonial trade of natural indigo dye. The exhibition focuses specifically on indigo’s long history from several perspectives, including global trade, forced labor, slavery, and indentured labor, migration, and colonization in terms of India’s colonial history. Exhibition contributor Barbara Hanson Forsyth explains, “Indigofera originated in Africa more than 150 million years ago and then spread to India where it was first cultivated for use as a dye.” Different varieties of true indigo (not to be confused with European woad) are grown around the world with the earliest known uses of indigo dye dating back 6,000 years ago in Peru.
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