Sunday, 26 October 2008

of red rags and bovines

whilst sojourning briefly near Nagarhole National Park i collected these beautiful and sweetly scented windfall flowers and bundled them for a dye test. that rich golden patch is the result from one flower. locals call it Siuli/Seuli/Shouli/Shephali (depending on who is offering the spelling)....Linnaean convention labels it Nyctanthes arbor-tristis (the sad tree?). 

one woman told me the dye is used to dye sarees for a girls' educational festival...simply by scrunching the flowers in a bucket of cold water... and here's a blog that details a list of healing properties attributed to the plant 

the print above was a complete surprise, from a young leaf of the teak tree, a plant that is rejected as unpalatable by the ravenous roving ruminants with which the Sub-continent abounds.  in fact i think one can safely assume that anything growing by the roadside in a country where stock roams at large (giving a whole new perspective to what we in Terra Australis call "the long paddock") has a self-defence system that involves at least an unpleasant flavour and probably some kind of toxin.

rummaging for information on the Tectona genus (to which Teak belongs) has however enlightened me as to the possible source of the revolting and persistent leprotic rash i developed whilst in Mandya... there's no such thing as a free lunch and those red leaf prints came at a cost too.

it's a fantastic colour (and washfast) but common sense, practical experience and now the wisdom of hindsight dictate that if it gives one a rash and is sufficiently toxic to prevent its devouring by the rib-thin ruminants then it certainly isn't the plant to fuel a cottage dye-industry; especially not in a region where scant attention is paid either to the safe disposal of waste material or to the separation of dyemaking from the cooking of food

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a most eventful trip. Is there anything else you brought back apart from a leprous rash and a distaste for the treatment of animals that one should know about and avoid like the plague?