Red Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus)

Domesticated around 4000 BCE in the Tehuacan Valley of Mexico

Red Amaranth has been used to dye food, beverages, and textiles for centuries. Hopi and Zuni Native Americans cultivate the plant for different means including as a colorant for Hopi piki bread and as a Zuni method to redden one’s skin, similar to rouge or blush. Amaranth was used as a colorant for cosmetics in the United States until the 1950s. In addition to its potent dye properties, amaranth varieties are grown as a food source.

References: 

  • Huckert, Chantal. “A Case of Continuity: Native Textile Designs of the Otomi Village of San Juan Ixtenco, Tlaxcala.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, no. 42 (2002): 204-25.
  • Ramanarayanan, P., C.V., and S. “Natural Dyes from Red Amaranth Leaves as Light-harvesting Pigments for Dye-sensitized Solar Cells.” Materials Research Bulletin 90 (2017): 156-61.
  • Sauer, Jonathan D. “Amaranths as Dye Plants among the Pueblo Peoples.” Southwestern Journal of Anthropology 6, no. 4 (1950): 412-15.

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