Full Version: Question on dye colors
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I have been looking through multiple threads as to what colors Romans could dye objects. I have seen reference to red, blue, and green. I was wondering what other colors were possible given roman technology.
Just about any colour is achievable with plant dyes. :wink:
Try looking up some sources on standard clothing (as opposed to army clothing) such as women's dresses, because that might give you an idea on the variety of colours available for dyeing.
I've heard Jonathan Stamp (historical advisor for HBO) comment that the Romans liked a wide variety of colours, and the more colourful something was, the more fashionable it was (at least in the Late Republic). This of course can be contrasted against today's fashion, where the most simple and solid plain colours are the most fashionable (one store I went shopping in recently had absolutely everything in either black, white or grey).
So to answer your question precisely, purple, black, brown and white are four more colours I can think of off the top of my head that definitely existed, but like I said (and as Peroni suggested) you would very likely have an entire spectrum of colours.
Hey Adam, where in Ontario are you from?
Hi Magnus, I'm from Toronto.

Different shades of different colours could also be acheived dependant on which mordant or 'fixer' was used. Mordants, used alongside plant dyes, dependant on concentration or combination could make a whole spectrum of shades ranging from bright to pale. Plus they fixed the dye, thus preventing significant fading. Mordants used from ancient times, right up until the 19th century (and the creation of synthetic aniline dyes) included vinegar, alum, cream of tartar, iron oxide (rust), copper, and urine.
A simple iron-vinegar (ferric acetate) solution reacts with tannic acid residue in leather to dye it a dark gray- black color- apparently the combination was also used to dye fabrics. I've tried it on veg-tanned leather myself and it works quite easily and well.