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Madder Red: A History of Luxury and Trade

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Madder red is an ancient dyestuff, extracted from the root of the madder plant, growing in many countries around the world. The secret and devilishly complex Oriental dyeing process to obtain the lustrous colour known as Turkey Red was avidly sought by Europeans, from the time before the fall of Ancient Rome. It was finally cracked by the French about 1760, who were able t Madder red is an ancient dyestuff, extracted from the root of the madder plant, growing in many countries around the world. The secret and devilishly complex Oriental dyeing process to obtain the lustrous colour known as Turkey Red was avidly sought by Europeans, from the time before the fall of Ancient Rome. It was finally cracked by the French about 1760, who were able to dye wool, silk and cotton bright red. After the lowlands of the Caspian Caucasus had been subdued by the Russians in the early 1800s, madder was cultivated there and rapidly became the main crop. The quest for Turkey Red went hand in hand with an avalanche of scientific research, which not only improved the yield of dyestuff from the roots but led to its chemical synthesis and in 1870 the collapse of the world-wide madder industry. Many of the nascent dye companies grew into chemical giants of our time. Further regional and cultural background may be found in Chenciner's Daghestan: Tradition and Survival, also published in the Caucasus World series.


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Madder red is an ancient dyestuff, extracted from the root of the madder plant, growing in many countries around the world. The secret and devilishly complex Oriental dyeing process to obtain the lustrous colour known as Turkey Red was avidly sought by Europeans, from the time before the fall of Ancient Rome. It was finally cracked by the French about 1760, who were able t Madder red is an ancient dyestuff, extracted from the root of the madder plant, growing in many countries around the world. The secret and devilishly complex Oriental dyeing process to obtain the lustrous colour known as Turkey Red was avidly sought by Europeans, from the time before the fall of Ancient Rome. It was finally cracked by the French about 1760, who were able to dye wool, silk and cotton bright red. After the lowlands of the Caspian Caucasus had been subdued by the Russians in the early 1800s, madder was cultivated there and rapidly became the main crop. The quest for Turkey Red went hand in hand with an avalanche of scientific research, which not only improved the yield of dyestuff from the roots but led to its chemical synthesis and in 1870 the collapse of the world-wide madder industry. Many of the nascent dye companies grew into chemical giants of our time. Further regional and cultural background may be found in Chenciner's Daghestan: Tradition and Survival, also published in the Caucasus World series.

30 review for Madder Red: A History of Luxury and Trade

  1. 4 out of 5

    Hellkitten

    This is a good book for a general history of madder. I would have liked the author to delve more into recipes, than he did. Also, I found his writing style to be somewhat dry (college-essay-ish), and had a tendency to doze off while reading. But, still a good book, to review the history of madder.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nita

  3. 5 out of 5

    Erica

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kris Grooms

  6. 4 out of 5

    Meg

  7. 5 out of 5

    Potter

  8. 4 out of 5

    mackenzie

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Inozarks

  12. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

  13. 4 out of 5

    Naomi Wallen

  14. 5 out of 5

    Haifa

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rukmini Kadam

  17. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessie Addley

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sapphire Ng

  20. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ke

  22. 4 out of 5

    Claudia

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Mills

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shara Varner

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nora

  26. 5 out of 5

    Er

  27. 4 out of 5

    Miss

  28. 4 out of 5

    Edward Kotynski

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anastasia

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chelsea Noble

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