Traditional animal and vegetable dyes

Rainbowlight

Senior Member
Spanish
Hello everyone,

I would like to know which are the Hebrew names for the most popular natural dyes. I am, of course, talking about the traditional animal or vegetables substances that were used to color textiles before the first synthetic dyes appeared.

In Europe, madder, woad and weld were the most used vegetal dyes. They respectively yielded red, blue and yellow colours.

Thank you.
 
  • Abaye

    Senior Member
    Hebrew
    I don't think we have many of these in Modern Hebrew. In ancient time we read תְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי, for example in Exodus 25:4, translated as "blue, and purple, and scarlet" or alike. All three were produced of sea snail blood or similar creatures. Israelites and Phoenicians (who lived on the sea shore) had the technical knowledge.
    • The color ארגמן "argaman" = purple-red is generally agreed.
    • The color תולעת שני or just שני "tola`at shani" = red is also agreed.
    • The color תכלת "tkhelet" is disputed. רש"י says it's green. רבי מאיר says it's blue like the sea and the sky: מה נשתנה תכלת מכל מיני צבעונין מפני שהתכלת דומה לים וים דומה לרקיע.
     

    Drink

    Senior Member
    English - New England, Russian - Moscow
    תולעת שני is kermes, no?

    As for techelet, in Bavli, Rabbi Meir says it is like sea and the sky, but in Yerushalmi he says it is like the sea, and the grasses, and the sky, and the "throne of glory", and sapphire (שהתכלת דומה לים והים דומה לעשבים ועשבים דומין לרקיע ורקיע דומה לכסא הכבוד והכסא דומה לספיר דכתיב (יחזקאל י) ואראה והנה על הרקיע אשר על ראש הכרוב כאבן ספיר כמראה דמות כסא). I believe it is something of this sort that confused Rashi to say it is ירוק or like כרתי. But it seems pretty clear otherwise that it is some sort of blue or purple. Not sure how it would be different from Argaman.
     

    Rainbowlight

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I don't think we have many of these in Modern Hebrew. In ancient time we read תְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי, for example in Exodus 25:4, translated as "blue, and purple, and scarlet" or alike. All three were produced of sea snail blood or similar creatures. Israelites and Phoenicians (who lived on the sea shore) had the technical knowledge.
    • The color ארגמן "argaman" = purple-red is generally agreed.
    • The color תולעת שני or just שני "tola`at shani" = red is also agreed.
    • The color תכלת "tkhelet" is disputed. רש"י says it's green. רבי מאיר says it's blue like the sea and the sky: מה נשתנה תכלת מכל מיני צבעונין מפני שהתכלת דומה לים וים דומה לרקיע.
    Thank you very much, but my question was concerned with the names of plants that have been historically linked with dyes in the Hebrew language. I am sure that there is a Hebrew tradition of using plant-based dyes used for changing the color of some threads or fabrics.
     
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