It’s safe to say that you can expect to pay the same price for the same fabric, regardless of the colour. But only a few generations ago, the cost depended on the colour of the cloth because some dyes were so expensive to obtain.

Purple was so expensive that only royalty could afford it!

Tyrian Purple, otherwise known Royal Purple or Imperial Purple, dyes fabric a beautiful deep purple shade. In ancient times, the dyestuffs were obtained from the Mediterranean sea snail. The purple is used by the snail as part of predatory and defensive behaviour – the secretion can be extracting by poking and antagonizing the snail, and the resulting goo would gradually become purple on exposure to sunlight. ‘Milking the snail’ was a renewable resource, but so labour-intensive that usually the snails were crushed completely to extract the colour. Mountains of snail shells have been found at the ancient sites of Sidon and Tyre – they were harvested to such extremes that for a long time, the Murex snail was considered extinct.

Keep reading:…