Indigo is the common theme.
Indigo, that extraordinary, magnificent, intriguing, crazy, magical, enigmatic, powerful and impenetrable colour is one of the vital pigment in art and the textile industry.
Archaeological remains show that it was in use even before Neolithic times.
Indigo is extracted from a number of plants of the Indigofera genus. Its ancient Sanskrit name, “Nila”, “the blue plant”, reflects its Indian origins. The Greeks began trading in the dye, and it became known as “indikon”. This then developed into the Latin form “indicum”, the origin of the English word “indigo”.
In Europe indigo was used as a medicine, cosmetic and paint pigment, as well as a fabric dye. Because of the high cost of importing the plants producing the colour from India, Indigo was regarded as a luxury commodity. At first woad - less expensive, but not so highly prized - was used as a substitute, but as the trans-Atlantic routes were opened up greater amounts could be shipped to Europe and indigo replaced woad almost completely.
The use of indigo was widespread across West Africa, from the Tuaregs of the Sahara to the people of the Cameroon. Indigo-dyed clothes were considered a sign of wealth.