You’ve probably seen people wearing clothes with an explosion of rainbow colours known as “tie-dye,” but did you know that tie-dying is an ancient fabric colouring technique used by people all over the world, including Muslims in parts of Africa and Indonesia?
Tie-dye is the art of strategically folding or randomly clumping cloth and then tying it with string or a rubber band to keep it together while dying. The string covers parts of the fabric, preventing the dye from reaching areas under it. Terrific designs are then created by adding various colours of dyes to different sections of the wet fabric.
Bright colours are typically used for tie-dying, and the fabric is usually cotton but any natural fibre can be used. You can purchase a tie-dye kit from an arts and crafts store and explore this ancient art yourself!
There are also tutorials online that demonstrate how to make cool patterns like spirals and stripes. My family had so much fun tie-dying our t-shirts that afterward we dyed socks, underclothes and even our thobes – we wanted to tie dye everything in the house! Try your hand at tie-dying and you’ll see how much fun it is to add your own splash of colour to your clothes.
Did you know…
• The oldest remaining examples of tie-dye come from Peru and date from 500 to 810 AD. Their designs have small circles and lines, with lively colours including blue, green, red and yellow, made from plant materials.
• Tie-dye methods have also been used for hundreds of years by the Hausa people of West
Africa, in the famous indigo dye pits around Kano, Nigeria.
• Shibori is a type of tie-dye from Indonesia and Japan that dyes the clothes by binding,
stitching, folding, twisting, etc.
• Tritik is an African form of using stitches to tighten the cloth before dying.
The result is usually quite bold.
• Hausa techniques dye the cloth and then heavily embroider it in traditional patterns. It is said that the hippie fashion was inspired by the Hausa techniques
• Mudmee tie-dye is mostly from Thailand and parts of Laos. Black is its base colour,
and it uses different colours and shapes than regular tie dye.
By (Budding young writer, insha Allah) Badier G Benoit-Elkaoui and originally appeared in Issue 4 of Discover Magazine- the magazine for curious Muslim kids