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    Glossary Term
    Ai - Indigo Dye

    (Also "tadeai")

    English Definition:
    Japanese Indigo Dye

    "Ai" is an extremely fast, deep blue dye obtained from the "tadeai" plant in Japan. The use of "ai" dates back to the 7th century A.D. when it was used chiefly by the aristocracy. With the the advent of vat dyeing ("tatezome"), ai became accessible to common people. The earliest method of indigo dyeing in Japan was known as "namahazome," which means "raw leaf dyeing." With namahazome, fresh tadeai leaves are used, whereas with vat dyeing, the leaves are fermented into the liquid "sukumo." Synthetic indigo has been introduced into Japan and has mostly crushed the traditional, natural process of indigo-dyeing.

    Note: "Ai" relates to the crafts, Somemono, the process of dyeing textiles such as silk and cotton with natural dyes such as indigo; Yukata, Japanese summer cotton and silk kimonos, worn during Japanese summer festivals, called "matsuri;" and Tategu, Japanese home interior fixtures, such as shoji screens, panels and doors, as well as fusuma sliding doors.

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