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Indigo In Search of the Colour That Seduced the World by Catherine E. McKinley

Indigo In Search of the Colour That Seduced the World

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This is a richly told story, brimming with electrifying tales of those who shaped the course of colonial history and world economy. But it is also the story of a personal quest: Catherine McKinley's ancestors include a clan of Scots who wore indigo tartan, several generations of Jewish 'rag traders' and Massachusetts textile factory owners, and African slaves who were traded along the same Saharan routes as indigo, where a length of blue cotton could purchase human life. Her journey takes her to nine West African countries and is resplendent with powerful lessons of heritage and history.

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Indigo In Search of the Colour That Seduced the World by Catherine E. McKinley

For almost five millennia, indigo - a blue pigment obtained from the small green leaf of a parasitic shrub - has been at the centre of turbulent human encounters, prized by slave traders, religious figures and the fashion world. Indigo is the story of this precious dye and its ancient heritage: its relationship to slavery as the 'hidden half' of the transatlantic slave trade, its profound influence on fashion, and its spiritual significance, which is little recognised but no less alive today.


'Indigo is a journey in every sense of the word, and one undertaken with an engaging passion. It is also, in the words of Miles Davis, Kind of Blue'
Mark Kurlansky

'A charming book: ethereal, wise, personal, as well as an imaginative exploration of what this colour really might be, when you go under the surface of its just being about blue'
Victoria Finlay, author of Colour: Travels Through the Paintbox

'A moving and lyrical journey through several continents and through the writer's own internal landscapes. This beautiful and unforgettable book, like indigo itself, reaches deeply into all our lives' Edwidge Danticat, author of Brother, I'm Dying

'A lyrical odyssey across borders, continents and centuries in pursuit of the history of a colour. Full of quirky details and connections, Indigo offers a new way to look at the world we thought we knew' Aminatta Forna, author of The Memory of Love

About the Author

Catherine McKinley is the author of The Book of Sarahs. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she has taught creative non-fiction, and a former Fulbright Scholar in Ghana, West Africa, where she began her research on indigo. She lives in New York City.

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Book Info

Publication date

30th November 1999


Catherine E. McKinley

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