Rohini Kejriwal on the history of indigo

Indigo is the penultimate colour of the rainbow and it is etymologically tied to India, demonstrating how far its origins go way back as Rohini Kejriwal discovered for Hyperallergic.

While indigo’s etymology identifies it as a “product of India,” it has a long history of being grown and used around the world for over four millennia and was further globalized as major 18th-century indigo plantations were founded by colonial powers in both India and the American South. For this show, [Bhasha] Chakrabarti sourced indigo from various parts of the world — from India to Nigeria to Guatemala — after interacting with farmers, dyers, and traders in cities with ancient traditions of indigo dyeing. She maps these overlapping cartographies of trade, imperialism, and resistance in her work and traces the presence of indigo in conceptions of divinity, agricultural and textile histories, and musical traditions. For example, she layers the lyrics of Blues songs with Bengali protest songs about the “tyranny of blue,” sung by indigo plantation laborers. 

I don’t hear enough about indigo. It’s a beautiful and underrated colour. There are three birds that are indigo in colour (and/or name):

  • Indigobirds
  • Indigo buntings 
  • Blue grosbeaks

Lactarius indigo, aka the indigo milk cap or blue milk mushroom, is a type of fungus with an indigo underbelly. And denim jeans got their blue colour originally from indigo dye. Go read Rohini’s essay and then check out indigo’s Wikipedia page.

Indian etymology related: Daughters, milking cows, and etymological debates

Colour related: The green experience and pink things

...Paint that shit gold!

A group of men were arrested at Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport when customs officials found 4kg of gold stashed in their… rectums.

Acting on intelligence, the accused were intercepted on Friday after their arrival at the airport in two different flights from Manipur’s Imphal.

As per developed intel, Delhi customs (preventive) intercepted five passengers from IGI, Delhi coming from Imphal on 05/11/21. Recovered 4,307 grams (4.3 kg) gold valued at Rs 2.06 crore from paste (5,380 grams) hidden in rectum.

via Onmanorama

When life gives you lemons and all that.

Airport related: Aditya Singh lived inside O’Hare Airport for 3 months unnoticed and Airport Novella – A Comedic Book by Tom Comitta

Daughters, milking cows, and etymological debates

An Indian woman milking a cow

Victor Mair wrote a very in-depth piece on the etymological origins of the word “daughter” and its connection to milking cows.

I was just thinking how important cows (and their milk) are for Indian people and was surprised that’s reflected in such a fundamental word for a family relationship as “daughter” — at least in the popular imagination.

The etymology of ‘daughter’

Upon further investigation, Mair traced “daughter” back to its roots, via Middle English, Old English, Proto-West Germanic, Proto-Germanic, Proto-Indo-European, and finally Vedic Sanskrit—duhitṛ (“one who milks”).

But rather than take Wikitionary’s word for it, Mair posed two questions to a host of linguists:

  1. Is that analysis reliable?
  2. Is duhitṛ cognate with “daughter”?

Enter a mixed bag of responses for and against the cognate connection. I won’t list them all here but if the answers were on a spectrum, every part of it would be covered but here are two extremes:

duhitṛ is indeed cognate with Eng. daughter. While I’m no kind of Indo-Europeanist, I do recall hearing that connecting it with √duh, dogdhi, etc. is spurious. But I don’t have any references to hand.

Whitney Cox—Associate Professor in the Department of South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago

Vedic duhitár- does NOT mean ‘one who milks’! That’s a 19th-c. myth that was exploded generations ago.

Don Ringer—American linguist, Indo-Europeanist, and Professor of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania

Read the article over at Language Log and choose your own etymological adventure. And if you’d prefer articles on milk from other animals, check out pule, made from donkey milk, and cheese made from moose milk.