Colour and patterns

Colour is the most immediately visible stylistic element. The two-colour or polychrome process depends on the number of dye baths which follow the preparation of reserves.  Formerly exclusively natural, dyes today are often synthetic.  The choice of colour is associated with symbolism of the colours and this aspect is equally referred to here.


Some original patterns come from reserve-dyeing processes and are revealed by playing with the colours.

  • indigo


  • parrot green

    parrot green

  • red


  • colour symbolism

    colour symbolism

  • ochre and brown

    ochre and brown

  • multicoloured


  • paint highlights

    paint highlights

  • dotted spiral

    dotted spiral

  • circular pattern

    circular pattern

  • figurative dotted lines

    figurative dotted lines

  • irregular line design

    irregular line design

  • sewing on pleats

    sewing on pleats

  • geometric representation, sowing

    geometric representation, sowing

  • figurative


paint highlights

paint highlights

Woman’s veil, taritat Morocco, Myen Atlas, Aït Telt, end of 19th century Wool, cotton Donation from Marcel Korolnik and Annette Korolnik-Andersch 70.2002.23.1

This type of veil, worn in a headband, was part of daily life until the beginning of the 20th century. Its abstract design has sometimes been interpreted as a protection against the evil eye. The dyeing was done by the women themselves. According to a single known document, an article by Marcel Vicaire dated 1938, one generally used a fragment of a well-worn draped dress that was dyed with natural colouring agents : madder, henna, wild thyme, bark of a walnut tree, to which alum was added as a mordant. Beforehand, the fabric was pleated and tied in a way to form five pockets, called ifournan, gathered and bound together. Once the fabric had been dyed and dried, the bindings were removed and one proceeded to the second stage of the design. Henna and madder were diluted in a brew from walnut bark and alum. With the help of chicken feathers, the paste thus formed was used for marking an irregular hairnet with small stitches.