Indigo Dyeing of Traditional Chinese Handicrafts | Indigo Floor




In this era of high-efficiency rule, a large number of chemically synthesized dyes are used in various fields, and colors are defined by RGB values. Different from the Western industrial color criterion, our ancients have long used a natural way to get a touch of blue with the leaves of grass, giving the colors of nature to the utensils.






“Qing”, corresponds to the wood and west in the theory of five elements. In the Eastern civilization, the dawn of the east and the growth of plants and trees, which is one of the meaning of “Qing”, symbolize the vitality of all things at the beginning of the movement. In thetheory of five elements, all things, they are combined and transformed with the meanings of moisturizing water and growing soil, have become an extremely important part of Eastern philosophy.




Among the many images in literature,“Qing”has the meaning of historical annals. "Sha Qing " refers to removing the moisture and color of bamboo slips, which is the  writing carrier in ancient China.  "Qing Ci " refers to the books for human and God to communicate. An energetic and personable young student always in cyan costumes. “Qing”thus has a vigorous and prosperous image, becoming a cultural symbol.




“Qing”also falls into the most intuitive visual experience. As one of the representative styles of classical painting, the traditionally “blue-green landscape painting” shows the ancient people's good use and emphasis on“Qing”.  With the complex layers of “Qing”, the painted scrothe scenery of mountains and rivers with both form and spirit, and expands the“Qing” in Visual presentation of spatial dimensions.





In the Dunhuang murals and Tibetan Thangkas, the magnificent ultramarine is used to depict the face and halo of Buddha statues to symbolize tranquility, sacredness. Coincidentally, this kind of paint traveled across the ocean to the West and became a precious lazurite, which could only be used to depict the serene, noble, and sacred portrait of the Virgin Mary. In modern times, this kind of "Qing" has become the predecessor of the strong and pure "Klein Blue" described by William Klein, and modernism is started with the color of "Qing" . 





 In the fusion of culture, art, and philosophy,"Qing" constructs metaphysical meaning with color, bringing a rich and natural meaning space in an oriental context.






 As the old saying "blue comes from the indigo plant but is bluer than the plant itself", the color"Qing" originally emerged in the Indigo dyeing process. In the Chinese character "", "" refers to Polygonum sylvestris, and "" means to observe the green grass extracted from the basin. The indigo dyeing process is closely connected with the colors of green and blue.





China is one of the earliest birthplaces of indigo dyeing craftsmanship. With the collection of natural creation ideas and skills, the ancients planted blue grass according to local conditions and applied it to fabric dyeing. After the precipitation of time and the dip dyeing of local cultures and customs, it developed unique indigo dyeing process.




If indigo plants can be used to dye cloth, can it be used to dye wood? Therefore, the Ugan concept and Rong Design Library team came to the village of Dongzhai in Qiannan, followed the local craftsmen, went into the mountains to pick indigo plants, and personally participated in the practice of indigo dyeing by local people using traditional and natural methods.




Indigo dyeing needs to be done according to the time, climate, and temperature. Under different natural conditions, the dyed blue is also different. The indigo plants is left for several days, fermented, and lime is added to react to obtain long-preserved blue indigo mud, which can be used to dye fabrics and other materials. The ancient craftsmanship has been passed down to this day, leaving aside the craftsmanship itself, indigo dyeing has long been immersed in the lifestyle of local people living in harmony with nature.








Different from the chemical substances and industrialized production methods of western floor dyeing, Ugan concept use the oriental dyeing method to color the floor by hand. Each floor is hand-dyed by craftsmen. Compared with the bright colors, the dark blue of the indigo floor is more forbearing and restrained in emotional tension, and can better represent the traditional Oriental's introverted and implicit life habits. 





As a kind of medicine, indigo is used to dye fabric,and thus the dyed fabric has natural antibacterial and heat-clearing effects, and it will not irritate the skin when worn next to the body. And this natural characteristic is also given to the floor, combined with the wood from nature, making the floor more environmentally friendly and healthy. At the same time, in order to keep this natural color, every piece of indigo floor has been treated with plant oil on the surface, which will not fade after long-term use.






"Plants and trees know the season", indigo dyeing is a craft that follows the seasons. From planting, collecting, to blue making and dyeing, it gives tangible traces to the time according to the season and climate, and also makes every piece of indigo floor unique and full of imagination. What is carried on the indigo floor is the Ugan concept’s  respectation for the natural way, as well as the protection of traditional handicrafts based on understanding and transformation. So that the natural color crafts will continue to grow indoors in another form.



图片&视频|Vincent Kuan   

Picture & VideoVincent Kuan   

文字指导 | 吕巍 

Writing Guide | Dr. Grey 

研究支持 | 融设计图书馆 

Research Support | Rong Design Library 



下期预告:中国传统手工艺之竹 | 竹木地板  

Next Preview:  Bamboo of Traditional Chinese Handicrafts | Bamboo Floor