Traditional Knowledge on Herbal Dyes and Cultural Significance of Colours among the Karbis, an Ethnic Tribe in Northeast India
Keywords:Karbi tribe, Gossypium herbaceum, sibu, Ahop, Rongker, cultural identity
A study of traditional Karbis knowledge of dye and dyeing techniques was conducted in Karbi Anglong District, Assam, India. The use of dyes for imparting specific color or color combinations was found to play an important role in the social and religious life of the Karbis. Cotton (Gossypium herbaceum L.) and eri silk are the traditional sources of yarn or fibers for weaving garments. Yarn, fibers and garments are often dyed (e.g., black, blue, indigo, yellow, red, pink) with plant extracts, animals prodicts, and even minerals. Dyes or colors carry important cultural value and therefore, uphold cultural identity. Traditional knowledge of herbal dyes and dyeing is facing threats from synthetic dyes and acculturation.
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