Mordant painting and printing

(Glossary Term)

Many of the Indian cotton textiles traded to Indonesia were decorated by a technique in which mordants, the chemicals that fix the dyes, were applied to the surface of the cloth before dyeing. In this process, the application of chemically different liquid mordants – either with a series of carved wooden blocks or a slim pen-like instrument – resulted in design elements of different colours appearing when combined with the same dye substance. The famous Indian natural alizarine red dyes used in this process were renowned for their colourfastness and brilliant colours. In some examples, block-printed iron oxide mordants created black dyes and potassium oxide led to bright red colour, whilst other substances and combinations resulted in browns and purples.

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