Indigo factory, Bengal
Artist: Simpson, William (1823-1899)
This chromolithograph is taken from plate 38 of William Simpson's 'India: Ancient and Modern'. In the 19th century, Bengal was the biggest producer of indigo in the world. Indigo was treasured for its rich blue colour and because it was one of the most colourfast natural dyes. As seen in this image, the plants (Indigofera tinctoria) were soaked in large tanks or vats of water to releasing their blue colour, and would then float to the top to be retrieved and dried.