Colombian artist Susana Mejía is fascinated by colour. Through her long-term research project 'Color Amazonia', she aims to preserve local knowledge about natural pigments from the Amazon. She collaborated with anthropologists, botanists, filmmakers and artists to document the plants used by indigenous Huitoto and Tikuna communities to investigate 11 different dye plants and their recipes from the Amazon region. Together, they aim to prevent traditional knowledge about natural fibres dyeing from disappearing.
Since its inception, Colour Amazonia has committed to the preservation of the environment and vindication of indigenous knowledge, while delving into the ancient relationship between humans and nature through ethnobotanical and transdisciplinary research. It fosters a collective reflection on the urgency of preserving the world's most important if not last ecological reserve, both, biologically and culturally speaking. So, it stands for a shift of paradigm, at all levels, to embrace the idea of sustainability.
Scientific name: Miconia prasina
Common names: Camasey blanco, cenizo, jogorai, kuukutee, waraia.
Part of the plant used for pigment: Leaf
Colour: Brown Yellow
Small, leafy tree growing up to ten meters tall, with thin stems and protruding, oval-shaped dark green leaves. Its flowers are very small, ranging in colour from white to pink, and are grouped in a cluster at the end of the branches. Its fruits are small berries that turn blue-purple when ripe.
Geographic Distribution and Natural History
It is native to tropical America and its range spans from southern Mexico to Bolivia and Paraguay, including the West Indies. It blooms during the dry season and bears fruit at the beginning of the rainy season. It grows mainly in rainforests in hot regions, but also in cloud forests. It is found up to 1,500 meters above sea level, in clearings, forest edges and areas of secondary growth. Its fruits are highly appreciated by birds, which are responsible for dispersing the seeds. The miconia genus was named in honour of the Spanish physician and botanist Francisco Micó (1528-1592). The epithet prasina means dark green, alluding to the hue of its leaves. In Spanish, it is called camasey or camasey blanco.
Little is known about the chemical composition and pharmacological properties of this plant. Its wood is used for fuel and to build hand tools. Although its fruits are edible, they are not very popular. It is used as food for livestock and also has the potential for use in regeneration processes and green corridors since it is a pioneer species.
The llorón produces a green-tea-coloured pigment attained when the leaves are macerated. This is a high-yielding pigment that sets easily over different surfaces. When turmeric and lemon are added, the result is the only green-coloured pigment, among the plants explored to effectively set on fique.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Llorón, turmeric, lemon