fifth maker

Dyers who give it colour

Ahimsa Eri Silk being a protein fibre absorbs most natural dyes. With Ahimsa as our core totem, we are resolved to give colour to this fabric using only those natural sources that are procured locally, leaving least violent footprints on life and nature. The dye raw material is natural i.e. plant and resin based, instantly compostable, non-industrial and non- toxic.

Natural Dyeing involves a series of high precision and complex steps to bring out the adequate conditions for textiles to absorb and retain dye. For this, the fabric or fibre is first pre-treated with scouring (removal of any oil, dust that could alter or hamper dyeing results) and then mordanting (to create adequate base or acidic relationship between dye raw material and fibre or fabric). A dye vat is prepared by extracting dye from the raw material, through the process of boiling or fermentation depending upon the nature of dye source. The pre-treated fabric/ fibre is then soaked, boiled (hot bath) or dipped (cold bath) in the dye vat for an adequate period of time to achieve the desired shade of colour. Repeated dips in the vat give deeper shades of dye.

Ahimsa Silk allows a range of natural dyes, however we are keeping our dye shade card to a minimum, keeping the sanctity of our project intention.

Dyeing-based livelihood beneficiary: 4 households
Dyeing region: Jhalukbari, Assam
Villages involved: Harapara (3rd)


Indigo | derived from Indigofera Tinctoria

To get the adequate mix of Indigo dye, the dye vat goes through many days of fermentation using the pounded leaves of the plant. Once the dye is ready, the fabric is dipped in the vat. Depending upon the number of dips, the shades of Indigo can vary from lightest to deepest.


Ahimsa Silk project villages border Meghalaya that is home to most colour-fast organic turmeric. We use this turmeric to dye our textiles that can vary from lightest hue of yellow to a deep mustard.

Onion Skin

A waste that is gold to a natural dyer. We achieve hues of yellowish-green from papery skin of onions by dipping fabric in hot dye bath.


Tea waste is gathered together till it is sufficient for dyeing. This waste is then boiled to cull out adequate density of dye.


Cowdung is a rich and easily available dye resource in the villages of Assam. Dyeing with cow dung dramatically softens the nature of fabric bringing out pastel leafy green shades to the textile. Wearing a fabric that is dyed with cow dung, encourages a non-toxic health environment for the wearer.


Harad/Haritaki/Harda/Chebulic Myrobalan

To achieve deep charcoal shades, the wonder Myrobalan tree fruit is used. This resources is available abundantly in Assam, however the tricky part of this dye is purely in its tanin relationship with right acidity to achieve desirable colour fast shades. When combined with Indigo, this yields beautiful shades of charcoal-blue.

Sappanwood or Brazil wood

To achieve a diverse range from reds to pinks and majentas, this small flowering plant wood is a wonder dye source. Our endeavour is to only source that wood which is already fallen. And though the colour is rich and easily achieved, it is one of the least readily available dye in our unit owing to our wish to learn to nurture nature-human balance.


Lac dye source yields hues of red, crimsons and purples. It is found in the wild and is also cultivated in the form of resin secreted by the female lac insects on host trees. This resin is harvested off the stem of trees to extract dye source. Small quantity of this dye can yield good results. This is again a forest waste that causes least damage to nature. When combined with myrobalan, this yields mehroon.

A natural dye workshop is like a science laboratory or a kitchen where each step is crucial to the accuracy of the next step. We can achieve extended range of hues when these natural dyes sources are combined together.