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The indigo dyers of Amarapura

(Amarapura is 11Km south of Mandalay in Shan State and is a centre of silk and cotton weaving.  Indigo blue is a staple dye colour, particularly for the men's longyis.  Today the dyers use chemical dye - from China - and not natural indigo.)

As you walk through the streets of Amarapura you can hear the constant 'click' of the looms and see the various stages of the weaving process taking place in houses throughout the town.  In September 1998 I found the indigo dyers by following back to source the flow of indigo coloured water - a bi-product of the rinsing process during dyeing.  Although there were individual dyers working in a small way the main dying was being carried out by a family who had been dyers for several generations. 

all text & images Pamela A Cross

For a description of the dying process which is captured by the photos click here

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Jpeg 24K Hanks of dyed cotton hanging out to dry - Amarapura, Shan State 9809e31.jpg

Jpeg 45K Hanks of dyed cotton hanging out to dry with charcoal, a bi-product of the dyeing process spread out in front to dry  - Amarapura, Shan State 9809f16.jpg

Jpeg 49K One of the dyers spreading out to dry the charcoal which is a bi-product of the dyeing process - Amarapura, Shan State 9809f17.jpg

Jpeg 37K The dye vat with hanks of cotton held over iron hooks soaking in the dye and wood for burning in the foreground - Amarapura, Shan State 9809f07.jpg

Jpeg 39K The head of the family of dyers blowing up the fire under the dye bath - Amarapura, Shan State 9809f18.jpg

Jpeg 36K Stirring the cotton hanks around in the dye bath - Amarapura, Shan State 9809g07.jpg

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Jpeg 38K Plunging the fresh cotton hanks of thread into the steaming dye bath - Amarapura, Shan State 9809g04.jpg

Jpeg 46K Plunging a second handful of fresh cotton hanks of thread into the dye bath - Amarapura, Shan State 9809g05.jpg

Jpeg 46K Working over the steaming dye bath - Amarapura, Shan State 9809g06.jpg

Jpeg 36K Draining off the excess dye over the dye bath - Amarapura, Shan State 9809f29.jpg

Jpeg 33K Wringing out the dyed hanks of cotton - Amarapura, Shan State 9809f30.jpg

Jpeg 37K Wringing out the dyed hanks of cotton thread and taking them off to dry - Amarapura, Shan State 9809f34.jpg

Jpeg 37K Getting water from the well for the rinsing process - Amarapura, Shan State 9809g03.jpg

Jpeg 29K The wife of the head of the family of dyers - Amarapura, Shan State 809f36.jpg

Jpeg 50K Huge jar full of sago used in the final rinsing of the dyed cotton to help stiffen and separate the threads ready for weaving - Amarapura, Shan State 9809f35.jpg

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Jpeg 32K The first stage in the mixing of the rinsing mixture - adding sago and water - Amarapura, Shan State 9809g01.jpg

Jpeg 34K Adding oil to the water and sago mixture used to rinse the dyed cotton to stiffen and separate the threads - Amarapura,  Shan State 9809g02.jpg

Jpeg 27K Further diluting the sago, oil and water rinse for the dyed cotton - Amarapura, Shan State 9809g08.jpg

Jpeg 35K Straightening out the dyed hanks of thread after rinsing - Amarapura, Shan State 9809g12.jpg

Jpeg 28K Straightening the threads and wringing out the water from the dyed cotton thread after it has been rinsed to stiffen and separate the threads - Amarapura, Shan State 9809g13.jpg

Jpeg 45K Straightening the threads and wringing out the water from the dyed cotton thread after it has been rinsed to stiffen and separate the threads - Amarapura, Shan State 9809e36.jpg

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to Jpeg K Indigo thread ready for being wound from the hank onto spools for weaving in a house in Amarapura, Shan State 9809f03.jpg

to Jpeg K Indigo thread being woven into a woman's longyi in a house in Amarapura, Shan State 9809e16.jpg

to Jpeg K Men carry their purchases back to their boat wearing their longyis woven with indigo dyed thread - Nampan market, Lake Inle, Shan State 9809o19.jpg

 

For a description of the dying process which is captured by the photos click here

 

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this page last updated 2 January, 2004