INDIGO HAND-DYEING – ONE OF BURGENLAND’S CONTRIBUTIONS TO UNESCO’S WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE
Indigo hand-dyeing and printing - one of Burgenland’s contributions to UNESCO’s world cultural heritage. As soon as you enter the Koó family’s indigo dye works in Steinberg, Burgenland, you feel like you have stepped back in time. You are not in a museum, though, but in a business that still operates as it did a century ago.
Items produced by the Koó family are still highly sought after, even if traditional indigo dyeing has come to an almost complete standstill throughout Europe in the last few decades. In 2010 the UNESCO Commission included the indigo blue printing works on the Intangible Cultural Heritage in Austria list (traditional craft techniques) under the heading “Blue printing in Burgenland”. Fabric printing can be traced back to the sixth century in Europe.
The current form spread in the 17th century due to lively trade links with India. As lavish embroidery and expensive fabrics were reserved for the wealthy, printed textiles developed amongst the poorer, rural folk.
In those days indigo dyeing and printing works could be found in many Austrian and Hungarian towns. The people of Burgenland wore the clothes produced there at work and during their leisure time. Now there are only a handful of workshops remaining throughout Europe. One of these is the Koó family’s dye works in Burgenland.