Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition

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, also nīlad̲j̲ (Persian, from Skr. nīla “blue”) is Indigo tinctoria L., Indigoferae , the oldest known organic dye. It is the main component of natural indigo, which can be obtained from various kinds of indigofera ( Isatis tinctoria, Cruciferae ) and from the knotweed ( Polygonum tinctorium, Polygonaceae ). For thousands of years indigo has been used in India, China, as well as in Egypt, to paint and dye various fabrics. Classical antiquity knew indigo as a medicine; the Arabs cultivated the plant and produced the dye themselves.

The Arab translators of Dioscurides did not find an…

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Dietrich, A., “Nīl”, in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition, Edited by: P. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel, W.P. Heinrichs. Consulted online on 26 September 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1573-3912_islam_SIM_5910>
First published online: 2012
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004161214, 1960-2007

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