The dyers of Evros prefecture learnt the art of dyeing from the people of Akalan in northern Thrace. Dyes were made mainly from indigo, and also from other vegetal materials taken from the roots, leaves, fruit, and bark of trees and plants. Similar dyes were used all over Thrace and Evros prefecture. The dye-works operated until the mid-1950s. Today there is only Angelos Bikidis’s dye-works operating occasionally at Petrota. This dye-works belonged to Barba-Lyberis from Palli near Orestiada.
Dyeing with indigo
The dye mixture was prepared in a vat, into which was thrown: indigo dissolved in hot water, crushed lime, half a kilo of ash, and water up to 40 cm below the top of the vat. Every half hour the mixture was stirred with a stout stick. As soon as the mixture was ready, 25 dresses were put in, 5 at a time. They had been prepared the previous day by being soaked, beaten, and folded in a special way. They were left in the dye mixture for a certain time, and were refolded every so often so that they would take the dye evenly. The garments were wrung out over the vat, turned inside out, refolded, and replaced in the dye mixture. This was repeated 3 or 4 times, and then the garments were dried.
Dyed and dried, the garments were dipped in kourkouti (cornstarch mixed with water) and dried in the sun. They were then laid on a slab of marble and lightly rubbed with beeswax. The kondarika (a stick with glass at one end) would be rubbed in short back-and-forth movements over the cloth, pressing the glass down and sprinkling water over the fabric every so often. It would thus acquire a glassy sheen.