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Dye With Cutch

(Acacia catechu)

Derived from the bark of the  Mangrave tree.

The dye is made by soaking cutch wood in hot water until the liquid becomes syrupy in consistancy. The thickened liquid is cooled, pressed, dried and then ground into powder for dyeing.

Cutch is source of colourfast shades of brown- cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.

It is both a dyestuff and a tannin agent and has been used in India since ancient times.

It is both lightfast and washfast.

Cutch contains tannin as well as the dye compound catechu.

It is a good dye for cotton as it is high in tannin. It is also suitable to use on silk and wool


Use alum mordant at 15% WOF for both protein and cellulose fibres. There is sufficient tannin in cutch so mordanting with tannin is not required.


20 – 50% of cutch powder will dye 100g of fibre to a warm brown. 

Weigh powder and completely dissolve in boiling water – add to the dye bath.

Before adding the fibre, bring dyebath gently to a simmer and hold temperature for 2 hours.

Leave to cool.

Add pre-wetted and mordanted fibre to the dyebath. Bring back to a simmer for another 1 – 2 hours. The dye becomes deeper and redder the more it is simmered.

Leave to cool.

Rinse. Wash. Rinse.

Dry out of direct sunlight.

Alum mordanted fibre yields toffee brown.

The addition of 2% dissolved soda ash in the dyebath will deepen the colour.

The addition of iron at 2 – 4% WOF yields chocolate browns.

A rinse with soda ash will redden the colour.

Laeving the fibre in the dye bath overnight will produce the darkest shades.

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