Monday, 16 September 2013

What colours of leather were available in period?

I know I sit around all the time wondering things like "what colours did people use to dye their leather items in period", but does anyone else?

Well, for those who do, I've gone through my four period sources of leather dye recipes and from those sources I've got the following list. Blue, green and red look to be the most common consistently across all sources, but there's a pretty good variety of other colours as well.

Colours include:
Blue - multiple recipes & sources
Green - multiple recipes & sources
Red - multiple recipes & sources
Black - multiple recipes & sources
Gray - multiple recipes, one source
Brown - multiple recipes, one source
Peacock (not sure what colour that is but could be a blue I guess) - one recipe, one source
Gold - one recipe, one source
Yellow - one recipe, one source
Purple - one recipe, one source
Green-purple (not sure what colour that would be either) - one recipe, one source

There is also a group of recipes using something called Pandius. According to, this is a compound pigment that can vary in colour depending on the exact mixture of components (

Keep in mind too that some of these colours may have multiple variations and tones. For example, there are some blue recipes that are labelled "light blue" and others are called "azure". These could actually be very different colours.

The bulk of these recipes come from 15th century or later, but one of the smaller source books is from the 12th century.

I'm particularly interested in the purple but it seems to be a pretty complex process to get it to work.

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