A second life for the ‘blue gold’ of France’s southwest

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LECTOURE, France: It took an American in southwest France to revive an ancient blue dye that once brought riches to the region and was so prized it was lauded in Chaucer’s poetry and used for uniforms in Napoleon’s army. US-born Denise Simeon-Lambert is one of two business owners aiming to restore international acclaim to this forgotten “blue gold,” as it was dubbed for the wealth it once brought to local dyemakers. The dye, from the Isatis tinctoria whose inauspicious English name is woad, fell out of general use in the 17th century when new shipping routes brought in the more concentrated and easier to produce indigo from India. This in turn was pushed aside in the last century by synthetic tints.

AFP

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