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Bristol, woad making

Bristol, woad making

Artist: Grimm, Samuel Hieronymus

Medium: Ink wash on paper

Date: 1788

Shelfmark: Additional MS 15540

Item number: f. 173

Length: 188

Width: 270

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Manuscript

Woad (istatis tinctoria) is a hardy biennial plant native to Britain and parts of Europe. Julius Caesar in Book Five of his Gallic Wars mentions that the British tribes used to daub themselves in a blue-indigo dye. However, it was used mainly as a dye in the textile industry.

The flowers and leaves were picked between June and September and were left to ferment before being processed, usually in a mill specially designed for extracting the dye. It was still cultivated for industrial purposes in England until the 1930s.

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