The stories



The Saffron Story-

What stories you might ask? The stories of these textiles date back to several centuries. Dreamed, crafted and weaved in remote villages with some taking months and even years to complete, they are testimony to an art and a time that are almost non existent in an age of instant results, gratification and mass consumption. As many of these families and villages moved to the cities in search of more lucrative work, there was a momentary lull before designers and patrons began to put in time, money and effort to keep this hand-craft tradition alive. Every day I find I am learning something, something about a fabric, a dye, a process that in turn is intricately linked to the history of a people, a village, a community that is in the process of fading away and giving way to a uniform sameness around the world.

Saffron– A color, a dye, a spice, a food.

The Wikipedia definition gives us this-

A degree of uncertainty surrounds the origin of the English word, “saffron” although it can be traced to have stemmed immediately from 12th-century Old French term “safran” which, in turn, comes from the Latin word safranum. Safranum comes from the Persian intercessor زعفران, or za’ferân. Old Persian is the first language in which the use of saffron in cooking is recorded, with references dating back thousands of years.

Saffron was detailed in a 7th-century BC Assyrian botanical reference compiled under Ashurbanipal. Documentation of saffron’s use over the span of 4,000 years in the treatment of some 90 illnesses has been uncovered.Saffron-based pigments have indeed been found in 50,000 year-old depictions of prehistoric places in northwest Iran.The Sumerians later used wild-growing saffron in their remedies and magical potions.Saffron was an article of long-distance trade before the Minoan palace culture’s 2nd millennium BC peak. Ancient Persians cultivated Persian saffron (Crocus sativus ‘Hausknechtii’) in Derbena, Isfahan, and Khorasan by the 10th century BC. At such sites, saffron threads were woven into textiles, ritually offered to divinities, and used in dyes, perfumes, medicines, and body washes.Saffron threads would thus be scattered across beds and mixed into hot teas as a curative for bouts of melancholy. Non-Persians also feared the Persians’ usage of saffron as a drugging agent and aphrodisiac. During his Asian campaigns, Alexander the Great used Persian saffron in his infusions, rice, and baths as a curative for battle wounds. Alexander’s troops imitated the practice from the Persians and brought saffron-bathing to Greece.

Conflicting theories explain saffron’s arrival in South Asia. Kashmiri and Chinese accounts date its arrival anywhere between 900–2500 years ago.Historians studying ancient Persian records date the arrival to sometime prior to 500 BC, attributing it to a Persian transplantation of saffron corms to stock new gardens and parks. Phoenicians then marketed Kashmiri saffron as a dye and a treatment for melancholy. Its use in foods and dyes subsequently spread throughout South Asia. Buddhist monks wear saffron-coloured robes; however, the robes are not dyed with costly saffron but turmeric, a less expensive dye, or jackfruit. Monks’ robes are dyed the same color to show equality with each other, and turmeric or ochre were the cheapest, most readily available dyes.


saffron robes


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