Natural dye-yielding plants and indigenous knowledge on dye preparation in Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India - PDF

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Natural dye-yielding s indigenous knowledge on dye preparation in Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India Debajit Mahanta 1 S. C. Tiwari 2, * 1 Arunachal Pradesh State Council for Science Technology, Vivek-Vihar,
Natural dye-yielding s indigenous knowledge on dye preparation in Arunachal Pradesh, northeast India Debajit Mahanta 1 S. C. Tiwari 2, * 1 Arunachal Pradesh State Council for Science Technology, Vivek-Vihar, Itanagar , India 2 Department of Forestry, North Eastern Regional Institute of Science Technology, Nirjuli , India Arunachal Pradesh, recognized as one of the hotspots of biodiversity is home to a range of economically important s. Some of these species have found use in the preparation of natural dyes. Natural dyes are colourants having several applications in textiles, inks, cosmetics, etc. Nature has gifted us more than 500 dye-yielding species. Daphne papyracea, is one such being traditionally used by the Monpa tribe of West Kameng Tawang districts for preparing dye as well as for making h-made paper for painting writing scripts in monasteries. The Apatanis, Khamptis, Tangsas, Wanchos Monpas have been using species like Rubia cordifolia, Rubia sikkimensis, Woodfordia fruticosa, Colquhounia coccinea, etc. traditionally in combination with other s for extraction preparation of dyes utilizing indigenous processes. During the course of investigation we were informed that some of these aforementioned species possess ethno-medicinal fibre-yielding properties in addition to natural dyeing are being used in traditional health care practices, rope-making, fish poisoning, etc. The vast treasure of indigenous methods developed by ethnic tribes for utilization of various s for their day-to-day needs requires proper documentation. The present study is an attempt in this direction, to explore the availability of natural dye-yielding s in Arunachal Pradesh as well as to document the indigenous knowledge, procedures related to preparation of natural dyes by the tribal societies in the state. ARUNACHAL Pradesh is the largest among the northeastern states, situated on the extreme north-eastern tip of India between lat N long E. The state covers an area of 83,743 km 2 is bounded by China Tibet in the north, Myanmar on the east, Nagal Assam in the south, Bhutan in the west. About 51,540 km 2 is under recorded forest cover with varying degrees of floral faunal diversity, which is 62% of the total geographical area (Economic Review of Arunachal Pradesh, 2000). The total population of the state spreading over 16 districts is about 1,019,177 with a density of 13 persons/km 2 (according to 2001 census). Each district has its own composition of tribes cultures. *For correspondence. ( Arunachal Pradesh has 25 major tribes 125 sub-tribes broadly belonging to the Indo-Mongoloid racial stock, with varied composition of cultural diversity 1. The major tribes are Adi, Aka, Apatani, Bangni, Hill Miri, Idu, Khawa, Khamba, Khamti, Lisu or Yobin, Memba, Miji, Mishimi, Monpa, Nah, Nocte, Nyishi, Sherdukpen, Singpho, Sulung, Tagin, Tangsa Wancho 2. The ethnic groups inhabiting different areas of the state have indigenous knowledge systems have evolved methods for utilizing the vast resources available 3. Floral diversity is the main source of raw materials being used traditionally by the indigenous people of the northeastern states as food supplement, for fodder, fibres 4, construction, hicrafts, beverages, colouring agents (dyes) more importantly, in health care practices. Their knowledge in utilizing these resources is characteristic differs from tribe to tribe. Earliest evidence for the use of natural dyes dates back to more than 5000 years, with Madder (Rubia cordifolia) dyed cloth found in the Indus river valley at Mohenjodaro. India is endowed with a wealth of natural flora fauna, which provide the basic resources for a rainbow of natural dyes. Natural dyes are environment friendly; for example, turmeric, the brightest of naturally occurring yellow dyes is a powerful antiseptic revitalizes the skin, while indigo yields a cooling sensation. Research has shown that synthetic dyes are suspected to release harmful chemicals that are allergic, carcinogenic detrimental to human health. Ironically, Germany that discovered azo dyes, became the first country to ban 5 certain azo dyes in The aim of the present study has been to investigate the availability of natural dye-yielding species in Arunachal Pradesh gather information on traditional knowledge system associated with extraction use of natural dyes by the tribal population. Organic dyeing not only helps preserve the traditional art of weaving design, but also provides employment yields economic ecological benefits. Five districts of the state, viz. Changlang, Lohit, Lower Subansiri, Tawang West Kameng were selected for the study based on their potentiality towards availability of such resources more importantly, the traditional use of natural dyes by tribal communities (Figure 1). Dye-yielding s occurring in different localities, their distribution habitat in the aforementioned districts along with their botanical name, status, parts used their various uses are enumerated herewith. The survey was conducted following the methodology of Jain Rao 6. All collections were made by D.M. the voucher specimens were deposited in the herbarium (Arunachal Pradesh Forest Herbarium), State Forest Research Institute, Itanagar, for further reference. Information recorded in this study is through direct observation discussion with experienced old persons/villagers of the tribal societies in the selected districts, as done in ethnobotanical studies 7. Each species collected, has been arranged alphabetically Figure 1. Map showing the districts surveyed in terms of availability of dye-yielding resources. Figure 3. dyes. Representation of parts used in preparation of natural Figure 2. Juglans regia reported from Tawang district. is provided with correct botanical name, available local name, brief description, distribution, flowering fruiting season, uses methods of propagation, etc. (Table 1). Thirty-seven species belonging to 26 families have been recorded in the present work. Fabaceae is found to be dominant with six species followed by Moraceae with four each Juglaceae with two species. The remaining 21 families have one species each. Various parts, viz. leaves (Aporusa diocia), (Bischofia javanica), flowers (Clitoria mariana), (Juglans regia) (Figure 2), seeds (Bixa orellana), etc. of the recorded species (Figure 3) were found to be employed traditionally by the tribal communities of the districts covered under the study for extracting dyes utilizing indigenous extraction techniques. The Monpas of West Kameng Tawang districts have traditionally been using Woodfordia fruticosa Daphne papyracea for preparing natural dyes. D. papyracea is also primarily used by the tribe for making h-made paper for painting, writing religious scripts in monasteries. The Apatanis, Khamptis, 1475 Table 1. Plant species being used having potential in yielding natural dyes in Arunachal Pradesh Species Local name Family Habit Distribution habitat Height (m) Flowering fruiting Parts used Colour produced Regeneration Aporusa diocia (Roxb.) Muell Baccaurea sapida (Roxb.) Muell.- Arg. Bischofia javanica Bl. Bixa orellana Cudrania cochinchinensis (Lour.) Kudo & Masam. Leteku (A) Urium (A) Changlang, Lohit Subansiri districts below 800 m asl in moist deciduous Endemic to northeast India. Wild, cultivated at lower elevations. Common in eastern Arunachal Pradesh. Changlang Lohit districts in tropical mixed evergreen Hatranga (A) Bixaceae Throughout India. Between m in tropical zones. Lohit Papumpare districts. Pulikaint (A) Moraceae Spinous shrub Lohit district in lower elevation in tropical evergreen April August March 6 10 September April 3 4 April Through seeds, leaves leaves seeds Annatto (yelloworange) Orange, yellow Through seeds seeds Clitoria mariana Colquhounia coccinea Wall. Daphne papyracea Wall. Desmodium multiflorum DC. Engelhardtia spicata Lesch. Entada purseatha D.C. Aparajita (A) Fabaceae Climber Changlang Subansiri districts. Common in sub-tropical Wild cultivated. Hom (K) Lamiaceae Wild. Changlang Lohit districts Gregarious in shady places in tropical sub-tropical forests m. Shugu-Sheng Common in sub-troical temperate forests above 1000 m. Cultivated in West Kameng district Fabaceae Kameng, Subansiri Siang districts in sub-tropical temperate forests up to 2000 m along the slopes. Corcorshing Ghilla (A) Juglaceae Mimosaceae Confined to northeast India in sub-tropical Common in West Kameng district. Climber Lohit, Siang Subansiri districts in tropical evergreen, deciduous Endangered species. Ficus altissima Bl. Gadgubar (A) Moraceae Common in lower elevations in northeast India in mixed bamboo forests, Kharsang area of Changlang district. Ficus gasperriniana Miq. Flemingia macrophylla (Willd.) Prain. Ru-kha (T) Moraceae Changlang Lohit districts. Undergrowth in wet swampy localities, often mixed with bamboo Fabaceae Changlang, Lohit, Siang Subansiri Tirap districts between m in sunny places along primary secondary 2 3 September April August April August June March 15 June 1 3 August March 3.5 August Flowers fruit Blue/ violet Dark red Stemcutting Thymelaeaceae seeds Flower Purple Young pods Stem roots Fruits roots Dark brown Dark blue Yellow () yellow (roots) seeds 1476 Table 1. Species Local name Family Habit Distribution habitat Garuga gamblei King. Ilex embelioides HK.f Illicium griffithii Hook. Indigofera tinctoria Juglans regia Melastoma malabathricum Michelia montana Blume. Miliusa roxburghiana (Wallich.) Hook. F & Thomson Nerium indicum Miller. Phaius tankervilliae (Ait.) Bl. Pinus wallichiana A. B. Jackson Polygonum hydropiper Punica granatum Sibon asing (Adi) Pani-amora (A) Burseraceae Aquifoliaceae Lissi Illiciaceae tree Changlang, Lohit, Siang Subansiri Tirap districts. Common in Arunachal Pradesh in primary forests between m. Changlang district above m in tropical evergreen Endemic to Arunachal Pradesh Meghalaya. West Kameng Tawang districts between 1200 to 1800 m in sub-tropical temperate Zia-shing Fabaceae s Well distributed throughout Arunachal Pradesh. Wild often cultivated. Kay Ke-Seng (Adi) Phutkala (A) Pansopa (A) Bong-kha (T) Tongschi, Lamshing Chhum-gon Juglaceae Melastomataceae Magnoliaceae Annonaceae Apocynaceae Orchidaceae, small tree Orchid West Kameng district. Wild cultivated in Eastern Himalayas under temperate climate between m. Changlang district throughout Arunachal Pradesh in between m Siang, Changlang Subansiri districts between m in tropical Changlang Kameng districts between m in tropical dense Changlang district. Common in tropical sub-tropical forests between m. Widely distributed in Arunachal Pradesh in humus laden forest floor in sub-tropical zone. Chongkham area of Lohit district. Pinaceae Widely distributed in sub-tropical, temperate zones in West Kameng Tawang districts in between m forming extensive pine Polygonaceae Herb Common, predominant in agricultural fields in tropical sub-tropical regions up to 600 m Dalim (A) Punicaceae Common cultivated in tropical subtropical regions between m. West Kameng district. Height (m) Flowering fruiting March 6 8 April April September February 2 4 Throughout the year 20 June March Parts used Colour produced Brownish Regeneration, stem cuttings Seed, leaves pods Unripe Fruits flower ripe 4 April Roots March June flowers Yellow (traditional dye) Indigo Purple Yellow Indigo Rhizomes April June Cones April September 3 4 August Flower Blue Deep blue 1477 Table 1. Species Local name Family Habit Distribution habitat Pyrus pashia D. Don Rubia cordifolia Rubia sikkimensis Kurz. Sapium baccatum Roxb. Solanum indicum Symplocos paniculata (Thumb.) Miq. Syzygium cumini Tephrosia cida (Roxb.) D.C Terminalia chebula (Gaertn.) Retz Woodfordia fruticosa Kurz. Semo (Apa) Naspati (A) Lining-Ru Tamen (Adi) Rosaceae Open forests in village outskirts in Subansiri district between m. Rubiaceae Hispid climber West Kameng, Tawang Lower Subansiri districts between m in primary, secondary forests along forest margins. Rubiaceae Herb Changlang, Kameng, Lohit Siang districts between m on moist soil. Seleng (A) Namdapha National Park, Changlang district. Confined to North East India in tropical evergreen forests below 1000 m. Bhekuri (A) Solanaceae Chongkham Lohit districts wild gregarious in shady wastels. Parehangne (N) Barjamuk (A) Jankeng-asing (Adi) Symplocaceae, tree Eastern Himalayas in primary secondary Myrtaceae Changlang, Lohit Tirap districts. Well distributed in tropical primary forests all over India. Bilokhoni (A) Fabaceae Changlang, Subansiri Tirap districts in tropical evergreen forests between m. Hilikha (A) Likkkha (Nocte) Chot-tingba Combrataceae Lythraceace Endemic to North East India at lower elevation in deciduous tropical evergreen Wild in Tenga Valley, West Kameng district at m in subtropical Height (m) 15 Flowering fruiting March February September February February 1 2 July 2 8 Parts used Colour produced Regeneration Fruits ish green Half ripe July August 30 4 April January branchlets branchlets Yellow Dark blue Root Dark blue Flowers dish yellowish A, Assamese; Apa, Apatani; M, Monpa; N, Nishi; T, Tangsa Tangsas Wanchos also have traditionally been using species like R. cordifolia, Rubia sikkimensis, Colquhounia coccinea, etc. in combination with other species for extracting preparing dyes. We were also informed, that some of these aforementioned species possess ethno-medicinal fibre-yielding properties, are being used in traditional health care practices, rope-making, fish poisoning, etc. in addition to natural dyeing. The ethnic communities of the state have been using the economically important s available since time immemorial. They have well-developed practices of utilization, where only natural products are used. The elderly in the tribal societies are still engaged in utilizing the local resources for a wide variety of purposes, viz. hicrafts, colouring agents, beverages, adhesives in addition to fodder, fuel, etc. In places like Bomdila, Dirang Tawang dominated by Monpas practising Buddhism, trees bushes are tied with paper strips made from D. papyracea as a sacred mark. Such trees bushes are not allowed to cut or be damaged 1. Certain s like J. regia used traditionally for extracting dyes are given protection are conserved; their cutting is forbidden a fine is imposed for violation. The indigenous knowledge system particularly associated with extraction processing of natural dyes from s is ancient among certain tribes of the state. The Monpa, Apatani, Khampti, Tangsa Wancho tribes, including the Tibetan settlers in the state have traditionally been engaged in extraction, processing preparation of dyes using s, leaves, roots of s like R. cordifolia, Pinus roxburghii, Pinus wallichiana, Bischofia javanica, B. orellana, Michelia montana, Indigofera tinctoria, etc. Animal residues like hide, fat secretion of insects like Kerria lucca, commonly known as the lac insect, are used in the preparation of natural dyes 5. During the course of the investigation, traditional dyers informed us that mixing of natural dyes with animal residues bovine urine yields fast colour permanency in the fabrics. The indigenous process of making natural dyes prevalent among the Monpas, Khamtis, Apatanis Tangsas is found to be more or less the same. It varies only in use of ingredients that in turn decides the consistency, range depth of colour of the dye 8. Indigenous dye extraction processes applied by some of the ethnic communities were documented during the course of this study. In one of the indigenous dye extraction processes, fresh, mature, of Terminalia chebula Retz. ( Hilikha ) Emblica officinalis Gaetern. ( Amlakhi ) almost in equal parts by weight, are crushed boiled in water for long periods in iron pots. The boiled mixture is then transferred to a pot having minute pores at the bottom through which only the thin liquid can percolate, leaving behind the residues in the pot. The pot with the mixture is placed over a tripod st another pot is placed below it, where the thick liquid from the upper pot is collected in drops allowed cool down. The thick liquid so collected in the lower pot is the dye () used for colouring clothes. In another process, the whole, leaves of R. cordifolia, R. sikkimensis, shoots of Ficus altissima separately or in mixture with parts (flowers,,, leaves, etc.) of other natural dye-yielding species like J. regia, W. fruticosa, Illicium griffithii, etc. are crushed put in an earthen pot, to which little water is added. The pot is kept undisturbed for days during which period the contents of the pot get fermented. The fermented content is boiled to get a thick liquid the extract is filtered through a piece of thin cloth to yield the natural dye. The colour of the dyes thus extracted prepared through this process depends upon the species parts used. In yet another process, hides of buffalo/ox/yak are burnt about 50 g of the ash is mixed with gall bladder of locally available fish, one each of Labeo gonius ( Pla-khuri vern. Khampti) Puntius sarana ( Pla-kun vern. Khampti) crushed with leaves of Solanum indicum The mixture is thoroughly mixed in about 1 litre of water boiled till it becomes thick. The mixture is squeezed through a cloth to separate the liquid dye. To make the dye fast non-washable, soot scraped out from cooking pots or burnt resin of P. wallichiana is added. However, addition of a few drops of bovine urine assigns quick drying property to the natural dyes. During the present study, a few rare, endangered endemic species having natural dye-yielding properties were recorded. The species Ilex embelioides, Phaius tankervilliae Entada purseatha are the rare treasures amidst the rich floral diversity of Arunachal Pradesh 9 (Figure 4). Thus the numerous species found in the state have an important role in the day-to-day life of the ethnic people. However, it is a matter of concern that the indigenous knowledge of extraction, processing practice of using of natural dyes has diminished to a great extent among the new generation of ethnic people due to easy availability of cheap synthetic dyes. It has been observed that the traditional knowledge of dye-making is now confined only among the surviving old people few practitioners in the tribal communities of this state. Unfortunately, no such serious attempts have been made to document, preserve take advantage of this immense treasure of traditional knowledge of natural dye-making associated with the indigenous people. It is time that steps are taken towards documenting these treasures of indigenous knowledge systems. Otherwise we are bound to lose vital information on the utilization of natural resources around us. Arunachal Pradesh, with its diverse flora, is a storehouse of economically important s, particularly the natural dye-yielding species. There is a large resource base, but too little is exploited. More detailed studies scientific investigations need to be made in order to assess the real potential availability of natural dye-yielding resources for propagation of species in great dem, viz. R. cordifolia, R. sikkimensis, W. fruticosa, etc. on commercial scale in the state. The indigenous knowledge system methods of traditional utilization associated with the local Figure 4. Phaius tankervilliae, the much sought-after orchid. 1479 people of the state in terms of economically important s need to be documented to prevent them from being lost forever. Commercialization of natural dyes can be successful in the state with systematic scientific approach for identification of resources, extraction, purification, chemical structure elucidation promotion of use of natural dyes, thereby enhancing the economy of the local people. As a whole, systematic approaches with scientific attitude would help in conserving the economically important resources, in addition to the rich indigenous knowledge base available in Arunachal Pradesh. 1. Choudhery, H. J., Materials for the Flora of Arun
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