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What is the energy of the color indigo?

What is the energy of the color indigo?

Indigo is a deep and rich color that has long been associated with mystery, wisdom, and intuition. But what exactly is the energy of this enigmatic hue? In this article, we will explore the origins, symbolism, and energetic properties attributed to the color indigo.

The Origins of Indigo

Indigo dye has been used for centuries to color fabrics and textiles. The dye originally came from the indigo plant, which is native to Asia and India. The leaves of the indigo plant produce a blue pigment called indigotin, which can be extracted and used as a dye. Indigo played a major role in the textile industry in Europe and Asia for many years.

The first recorded use of indigo dye dates back to 2600 BCE in ancient Egypt. It was also present in Africa by the 12th century BCE. By the 17th century, indigo cultivation and the indigo trade expanded to the Americas through colonialism. Major indigo producing areas included India, Jamaica, El Salvador, and South Carolina.

By the late 19th century, synthetic indigo dye was developed and replaced the use of natural plant-based indigo. Today indigo remains an important dye for denim and other textiles around the world.

The Color Meaning and Symbolism of Indigo

The mysterious blue-violet hue of indigo has inspired a rich symbolism and meaning throughout history. Here are some of the ways indigo has been perceived:

  • Wisdom and truth – In many cultures indigo represents wisdom, insight, and truth.
  • Intuition and perception – Indigo is linked to the sixth chakra, the third eye chakra, associated with intuition and perception.
  • Justice and judgment – Historically indigo was used in judicial robes and uniforms to represent honor and impartiality.
  • Royalty and nobility – The rarity and expense of indigo led it to be associated with royalty around the world.
  • Exploration and journeys – As indigo was traded across seas and continents, it represented exploration and long journeys.
  • Mysticism and magic – The deep blue hue lent an air of mystique and magic to indigo.
  • Tranquility and calmness – The rich depth of indigo evokes stillness, introspection, and tranquility.

Indigo’s meaning varies across cultures, but often encompasses wisdom, perception, authority, spirituality, and profundity. The color provokes self-reflection, contemplation, and a quiet majesty.

Indigo in Culture and History

Indigo has distinguished itself in art, traditions, and culture over the centuries. Here are some significant ways indigo has been used and perceived:

  • The Tuareg people of West Africa wear indigo dyed garments and turbans which have deep cultural meaning.
  • During the Renaissance, indigo symbolized sacrifice and virtue in European paintings.
  • Indigo jerseys are part of cricket uniforms that date back to the 19th century.
  • “Blue jeans” of the Old West were originally dyed with indigo and worn by miners, cattlemen, and others.
  • Impressionist painters used indigo to capture moods and emotion in their art.
  • Buddhist monks wear indigo colored robes, symbolizing wisdom, compassion, and discipline.

From high fashion to rugged workwear, spiritual traditions to priceless art, indigo has left its mark across cultures and history through its vibrant saturation and nuanced meaning.

Indigo in Modern Usage

Though synthetic dyes have replaced plant-based indigo in most industries, the color still has widespread usage and meaning today. Some modern applications include:

  • Denim jeans – The iconic denim used for jeans is dyed with indigo. Multiple washes produce lighter shades of blue.
  • India’s Bandhani textiles use indigo along with other dyes to create elaborate tied-dyed patterns.
  • Some companies use indigo dyes extracted from plants like woad as a more sustainable and natural blue dye.
  • Indigo colored uniforms are used by airline staff, medical scrubs, delivery company employees, and more to communicate trust and reliability.
  • The indigo bunting bird, named for its brilliant indigo colored feathers, can be found across North America.

Though synthetics have replaced plant-based indigo for most uses, the iconic color still carries important cultural associations and is found worldwide.

Indigo and Chakras

In Hinduism and yoga, indigo is linked to the sixth chakra, known as the third eye or ajna chakra. This chakra is associated with:

  • Intuition
  • Imagination
  • Wisdom
  • Perception

When balanced, the third eye chakra allows us to see things from a “higher” viewpoint and connect to our inner guidance system. Indigo crystals and visualizations are sometimes used to activate and energize this chakra and its attributes.

Chakra Location Associated Color
Third Eye Chakra Forehead, between eyes Indigo

Some believe indigo’s vibration stimulates the third eye, helping us cultivate insight, visualize new possibilities, access intuition, and understand our purpose in a deeper way.

The Science and Physics of Indigo

In physics, indigo is a color located in a specific wavelength range of the visible light spectrum. Here are some scientific facts about indigo:

  • Wavelength range of about 445-425 nanometers.
  • Frequency range of approximately 670-700 THz.
  • Located between blue and violet on the visible spectrum.
  • Complementary color is yellow.
  • Human eyes perceive indigo through specialized retinal cone cells.

When all wavelengths of visible light are combined, they form white light. Indigo makes up one section of this spectrum, adding its rich blue hue.

Color Wavelength (nm) Frequency (THz)
Red 620-750 400-484
Orange 590-620 484-510
Yellow 565-590 510-530
Green 495-570 530-606
Blue 450-495 606-668
Indigo 445-425 670-700
Violet 425-400 700-789

While the human eye sees indigo as a distinct color, some argue it is an illusion and not truly a spectral color. Either way, this deep blue wavelength leaves a unique impression on our sight.

Indigo Pigments and Dyes

Historically, indigo color came from dye extracted from certain plants. Here are some natural sources of indigo:

  • Indigofera tinctoria – The true indigo plant from Asia, source of original indigo dye.
  • Isatis tinctoria – Also called woad, this plant from Europe and Asia produces indigo.
  • Polygonum tinctorium – Provides indigo dye from roots of the Chinese knotweed.
  • Strobilanthes cusia – Known as Japanese indigo, dye comes from the leaves.

Today most indigo dye is created synthetically. The main pigments used include:

  • Indigo – The historically common pigment molecule used to dye denim.
  • Indigo carmine – Sodium or calcium salts used as food coloring and other dyes.
  • Pigment blue 66 – Phthalocyanine-based organic pigments used in cosmetics.

By understanding the chemistry behind indigo, modern dye technologies can recreate this storied color.

Source Major Pigment
Plants Indigotin
Synthetic Indigo, indigo carmine, pigment blue 66

Indigo in Optics and Lighting

When working with indigo in design, optics, or lighting applications, keep these factors in mind:

  • Indigo has a relatively short wavelength compared to other colors.
  • It is located at the transition point between shorter and longer wavelengths.
  • Mixing indigo with red, blue, or violet can create new shades.
  • Light scattering is reduced at shorter indigo wavelengths compared to red.
  • CRI or color rendering affects how indigo is perceived under different light sources.
  • The right illumination can bring out indigo’s richness and intensity.

With creative lighting techniques and an understanding of indigo’s optical properties, this color can make a dramatic visual impact.

Psychology and Perception of Indigo

The unique hue of indigo elicits particular psychological responses and perceptions. Studies have found:

  • Indigo is seen as calming yet mysterious compared to brighter colors.
  • It creates contemplative feelings and introspective states.
  • People tend to concentrate better in indigo environments.
  • It can enhance spiritual awareness and creativity.
  • Too much indigo may cause feelings of isolation or aloofness.
  • Darker indigo shades may come across as more sophisticated.

Indigo straddles the realms of the conscious and unconscious mind. It opens portals for deep thought, psychic development, and profound inner journeys.


The color indigo resonates at the intersection of intuition, integrity, and vision. Its rich violet-blue tones have adorned robes, artwork, textiles, and denim for centuries with nuanced meaning. Indigo represents justice, honor, and mysticism across many cultures. Modern usage in optics, lighting, design, and alternative spirituality builds on indigo’s ancient heritage. The energy of indigo empowers us to look inward, trust our deepest knowledge, and express our authentic selves.