Thai Colours are Made From These

Thai fabric, like Mudmee or Ikat, is traditionally dyed with natural colours that come from various sources, such as plants, fruits, stones and more. The yarns are then boiled again so that the colours are fixed.


Gum Arabic


Gum Arabic, in the form of powder, is used in the preparation of Thai colours. The paint is mixed with a binder, which results in a glue-type mixture. In the olden days, resin was collected from Makwid trees and dissolved in hot water until it turned into liquid latex paint. The modern recipe uses resin that comes from India’s Acacia rubber plant instead.


Lacquer Varnish



Lacquer varnish comes from medium-sized standing timber, which are found in forests. It is used to treat wood and other materials, and also serves as a durable foundation for a gilded surface. It is commonly used in handicrafts.



Gold Leaf



Gold leaf is gold that has been beaten into very thin sheets, often used in gilding and worship.





Red Sandalwood (Adenanthera pavonina)



Red sandalwood dye comes from the tree by the same name, which is valued for its wood’s red rich colour.







Lac is a scarlet resinous substance secreted by the lac insect. It is used to make dyes, varnish, shellac, sealing wax and more. It is an ancient method that has been used for over 4,000 years.



Sappan Tree



The Sappan tree is a type of large shrub that comes in two colour variations – dark red and yellow. It is used as dye and food colouring. When it is boiled in water it turns into a deep red colour, similar to pomegranate skin.



Red Iron Oxide




Red iron oxide comes from rusty iron ore and creates a dark red colour.






The powdered mineral cinnabar produces a brilliant scarlet or red pigment called vermilion. It is traditionally used in paintings, art and lacquerware throughout Asia.





Red lead



Red lead, or minium, is an orange or bright red pigment that has been used for painting and decorating for centuries. The Chinese traditionally use it to cover steel in order to make it rustproof.








Saffron is an important spice and medicinal herb that is often used in foods and dyes. It has been imported from Arab countries (Persia) since ancient times.





Gamboge Tint



Gamboge tint comes from the resin of the Indian Gamboge Tree (Garcinia Hanburyl). It is a deep saffron to mustard yellow pigment, and is often used to dye Buddhist monks’ robes.






Native Americans traditionally used turquoise as good luck charms. Its colour is slightly greenish, though it is comparable to the colour of the sea with its mixture of green and blue.






Turmeric is a perennial plant that comes from the Ginger family. It originated in Southeast Asia and is used as a dye.




Green Bronzes



The name ‘green bronzes’ is derived from the Chinese word ‘tang’, which means brass or copper. The colour comes from copper sheets soaked in acid vinegar, which causes green rust. The green rust is then ground to create a pigment.




Lapis Lazuli



Lapis Lazuli is a semi-precious stone that is made up of three different minerals – gold Pyrite, white Calcite and blue Lazurite. It is a rare and valuable antique gem because of its incredible deep blue colour. It is ground to create a pigment called ultramarine.







Malachite is an opaque green gemstone with streaks in it. It is crushed to create a green pigment, however nowadays malachite often refers to the colour that comes from the synthetic dye, instead of the gemstone itself.





Indigo dye typically comes from the leaves of Indigofera tinctoria, which is a small bush-like plant that grows in Asia. The indigo leaves are soaked in alkaline water to ferment, resulting in blue water, which can be used as dye and paint.



Ivory Colour




Ivory colour is made from powder, or white lead, that comes from a mixture of lead oxide and yellow clay.







Yellow Soil




Yellow soil is the name for a pigment created from yellow soil.