Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Take 100% naturally made handloom fabrics, dye them with colours derived from plants recommended in the Ayurvedic medicinal system and, hey presto! you have clothes that can help cure several different ailments.

Hmmm...sounds promising, you say, but a bit far-fetched....

Well, we have news -- it's actually happening and its called Ayurvastra.

Traditionally such clothes were produced by 'healer-weavers' that served the royals in Kerala but modern cloth production stamped out the need for the handicraft. Now it's being revived by the Ayurvastra Handloom Weavers Development Society in Kerala, headed by 37 year old Kuzhivilas Vijayan, from the Kuzhivilas weaving family who were originally at the forefront of 'medicinal dyeing'. The entire process is free of chemicals, conducted in a very controlled environment and at every step, healing through the right combination of herbs is key. For e.g., arthritis requires garments infused with agathi (agati grandiflora) and manjistha (rubia cordifolia) while blood pressure problems require chebula (terminalia chebula) and tusli (Indian holy basil). Colour can come from (the natural antiseptic) haldi (turmeric) for yellow, pathimukham (Ceasalpina Sappan) flowers and bark for red (convenienently the plant also has anti-cancerous properties) and neela amari (indigofera tinctora) for blue. Fragrance can be from sandalwood and the preservative 'glue' used to hold all the colour and smell is also non-toxic (gum of neem is often used). And at the end of it all, waste becomes bio manure and biogas.

While skin problems are clearly a focus for Ayurvastra, early tests by the Government Ayurveda College report material benefits to rheumatic patients, as well. According to its practitioners the reason Ayurvastra works is because the body's immune system is exposed to the right combination of healing herbs and plants, which brings it into equilibrium. Currently the Society has been given substantial grants by the state government to continue r&d.

At DeviDoll we thought we'd heard all we could about superfoods! Anyway, this is some pretty interesting stuff and takes the concept of 'natural dyes' to a whole new level. We are already primed to cut out toxins in our food and also our cosmetics. Next on the list might be toxin free colours.

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