Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

“Indigo - A Story of Craft, Religion, History, Science and Culture,” Dr. Roald Hoffmann

2012 Linus Pauling Legacy Award

April 19, 2012


Roald Hoffmann
Roald Hoffmann (Cornell University)

“Indigo - A Story of Craft, Religion, History, Science and Culture”  Watch Video

One way to see the role of a desirable blue pigment, indigo, in world culture, is that it has served remarkably to intertwine craft, fashion, religion, power, and science. Even if some people would like to keep them separate. The story begins with the prescription by the Hebrews in Numbers of a blue pigment for ritual use (and its role in a critical biblical rebellion), the parallel story of Tyrian purple and its uses in the Roman world, continues with the animal and plant sources of that pigment worldwide, the historical loss of the art of making snail indigo, on to chemistry and blue jeans. Some observations on the relationship of science and religion will emerge along the way.

Related Names: Linus Pauling