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Culture > Fashion & Style > Clothing

Tie-dye (zha ran 扎染) :As the name shows, the tie-dye process can be divided into two parts, first tie and then dye. Normally we use strings and wood strips, squares and chopsticks to tie parts of the fabric so that they will not absorb dye, giving the fabric a streaked or mottled look.

Tie-dye has a history of 1500 years in China and reached its peak in the Tang Dynasty. Tie-dyed clothing became fashionable for the upper class. Until the North Song Dynasty, the government forbade it because of the complex procedure, so it has declined since then. But it still enjoys great popularity among the ethnic minorities, especially the Miao people, in southwest China ’s Yun’nan and Guizhou Provinces. Nowadays, tie-dye is widely used for clothes, ties, scarves, hangings and so on.

The fabric used is normally white cloth made of cotton, linen and silk which are soft and can easily absorb water. The dye was originally a kind of powder made of natural herbs like indigowoad root 板蓝根 and mugwort 艾蒿. These herbs have the function of diminishing an inflammation. So Chinese often drink indigowoad powder to prevent and cure colds. But these natural dyes takes one day and half to stay on the fabric, so chemical dyes are more commonly used now, like we use today for this class. The fabric will be dyed within one or two minutes. The chemical dye provides a variety of over 30 different colors and tones.
Blue and white are two principal traditional colors for tie-dye, because it presents a kind of pristine simplicity, like the Blue & White porcelain of China. Nowadays, people are beginning to use many other different colors. The sequence for the color is light ones go before the dark ones.

* Fold the fabric and tie it with the strings only.
* Fold the fabric and tie it with strings, wood strips and squares.
* Fan-fold the fabric, twist it and then tie each end of it with strings to the two ends of one chopstick. 
* Roll the chopsticks with the fabric, squeeze it, and then tie it with the strings on each end.
* put them in the boiling water with the dye (80 degree centigrade). Half a minute to one minute later, take them out and cool them in cold water and unwrap them.

A tip for tie-dye:
Make sure the tied parts of the fabric are tied up tightly enough, or else the dye will soak into the non-dyed sections.



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