Contrary to what most people believe, tie-dying is something that was not invented in America during the 1960s. The beginnings of tie-dying go back to pre-history as many countries have experiment the use of bindings in creating patterns on cloth dipped in extensive dye. Several types of tie-dye have been practiced in Africa, India, and Japan for many centuries. Tie-dye was first used back in the ancient times. Together with shells, beads, and other fancy ornamentations, tie-dye was done by the early ancestors.
It became fully developed during the T’ang dynasty in China around 618-906 A. D. In Japan, it was introduced in 552-794 A. D. during the Nara period (Wada, 124). Since hemp and silk are very responsive to the resist technique, tie-dying art became outstanding. Early tribes from Central America, South East Asia, and Western China, tied and dyed their threads before weaving the cloth. The woven material showed exquisite designs as the white lines of the tie blended uniquely together with the colored dyes. The early dyes that were used were extracted from different leaves, flowers, roots, and berries.
The selection of the early people included safflower, onion, marigold, lichen, blackberries, red cabbage, indigo, and sage. These dyes can still be found and used at present; however synthetic dyes have become more developed and are widely used. Synthetic dyes are permanent, efficient, and quick-setting. In 1568 to 1603, tsujigahana was a popular art. It was an art combining the ornamental drawings out of sumi (Chinese ink) plus tie-dye (Kafka, 87). Tie-dying can be used as a total design or it can be used in creating large part where trees, flowers or even landscapes are drawn and made into designs.
During these times, Japan was split into kingdoms. Tie-dyed kosode or kimonos were the most prized gifts of recognition given to those officers who have exemplified bravery during the battles. Kimonos exhibit appealing alternatives in using tie-dyes. Tie-dye also has other forms and can be found all over the world. Different forms of tie-dye have emerged and distinguished the various nations of Africa. The Bandhani, also known as Bandhej, Bandhni or Plangi which is the Malay-Indonesian name, is an Indian tie-dye technique which is recognized as the oldest tie-dye tradition still practiced in the world.
This technique engages in designs made of dots in which tiny points are tied with thread prior to immersion dyeing. During the Roaring ‘20’s, pamphlets were printed that contains instructions on how to decorate homes with tie-dyed throw-pillows and curtains in the United States. Then during the Depression, girls cut up cotton flour sacks then tied-dyed and sewed them into clothing, tablecloths and curtains – showing that when times become tough, tie-dyeing has been a contributing agent in brightening peoples’ lives.
When the 1960’s “do your own thing” movement that promotes individuality emerged among the young people, tie-dyeing became an instant hit once again. That time, each person would make a statement by means of personal touch to tie-dyeing clothes. Silk and cotton banners were the in style backdrops for rock and roll concerts, tie-dyed sheets were transformed into wall hangings and room dividers. Later in the 1980’s, the art of tie-dyeing reemerged as an art form which needed highly-skilled and labor intensive artists.
The quality of the tie-dye had never been better with the emergence of a wider array of design and colors of different tone. The old dyes that used to fade so badly was replaced with a permanent and easy to use dyes. Pastel colors became a favorite for the more conservative artists. However, the colors became widely available in bright rainbow colors, purples, earth tones, toned down blues – creating limitless number of designs that are at the same time completely unique.