Many of the products at Kasu Emporium are coloured using natural dyes. Here are some of them:
Brazilwood is from the heartwood of trees of the genus Caesalpinia. Originally an old-world dye, the country of Brazil was named after the species Cæsalpinia echinata found on Brazilian coastlines. Historically harvested (then overharvested) brazilwood is now protected.
Eastern Brazilwood - aka Sappanwood, Cæsalpinia sappan is found throughout east Asia and is a replacement for the protected Brazilwood.
Cutch or Catechu is an extract of acacia trees that produces a nice warm brown colour and several similar shades. Cutch was used to dye calico in India for centuries and was used extensively in India in the Mughal and pre-Mughal period. It is so important that Kutch, a district of Gujarat in India, was named after the dye. Cutch dye creates the colour khak (or khaki), an Indian word for dust, earth, and ashes. Cutch was used to dye the khaki colour of military uniforms because this colour is difficult to see at a distance and provides a natural camouflage.
The trees are grown in plantations and are cut when they are thirty years old. The bark is removed and then the heartwood is made into wood chips. The dye is extracted by boiling the wood chips in water until the liquid becomes very thick. It is then poured onto mats where the cutch extract hardens as it cools down and can be broken into chunks.
Indigo (natural) – Natural indigo powder is an extract prepared from Indigofera tinctoria. Indigo is the legendary source of colourfast blues. Its ability to produce a wide range of shades has made it the most successful dye plant ever known. Indigo grows all over the world but flourishes best in hot tropical climates. Indigo can give clear blues that range from the tint of a pale sky to a deep navy that is almost black.
Iron, although not a dye or a tannin, it is used as a colour modifier.
Lac Extract – From the scale insect Kerria lacca found throughout India, south east Asia, Nepal, Burma, Bhutan and south China. Lac is found in the wild and is also cultivated. The female lac insects invade host trees and the insect secretes a resin that covers its colony. When harvested, the covering is broken off the branches and is known as stick lac. The resin is used to make shellac. The dye must be extracted from the stick lac before it can be used to colour cloth.
Lac extract yields crimsons to burgundy reds to deep purples
Madder – Rubia cordifolia (Indian madder) is one of the oldest known dyestuffs. It is used to produce turkey reds, mulberry, orange-red, and terracotta. In combination with other dyes madder can give crimson, purple, rust, browns, and near blacks. Madder is cultivated throughout India, south east Asia, Turkey, Europe, south China, parts of Africa, Australia and Japan. .
Myrobalan - This dyestuff consists of ground nuts of the Terminalia chebula tree. This tree grows in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Indochina and south China. It may be classed as both a mordant and a dye, giving a light buttery yellow when applied.
Tesu flowers - aka Flame of the Forest, Butea monospermous is native to tropical and sub-tropical parts of the Indian Subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Apart from being a fabric dye, the flowers are also used to prepare a traditional Holi colour called Kesari.
In villages of many parts of India, this tree provides the leaves that are used pieced together to make a leaf-plate for serving a meal.