Mangifera indica

Our handmade watercolours are all available on our Etsy store

How to use: Wet surface of pan. Gently scrub the surface. 

Storage: Store in a cool, dry place, out of direct sunlight. Ensure the pan is dried out before keeping. Even though we boil our inks with natural preservatives, there is still a chance of mold growing. In case that happens, just scrap off the moldy part and you should still be able to continue using the colours.

A Mango Brew

Our studio is once again filled with the fragrant, sweet-citrusy notes of a Mango brew. 

Whilst the Mango fruit is consumed as a popular treat in Southeast Asia, the palette of the mango leaves is less commonly talked about. Steeped briefly in hot water, the leaves gift a fragrant concoction which also packs a healthy punch of mangiferin. Traditional chinese medicine practitioners recommend it to patients with diabetes and asthma. Herbalists tout its benefits from weight loss management, infections treatments, stomach ailments… the list goes on.

Mango leaves from our garden.
And more mango leaves presented during a Living Colours workshop.

Traditional usage of mango leaves goes beyond its nutritional benefits. To find out, let’s travel back to the 15th-century village called Monghyr in India, where farmers supposedly pioneered a curious way to manufacture yellow pigments from mango leaves, with the help of cows.

The discovery was based off the observation that if cows were fed a strict diet of mango leaves and water, their urine would become especially luminescent. The villagers stored the urine in terracotta pots, boiled it to a syrup over an open flame, filtered and then dried to yield the popular yellow pigment called Indian Yellow, which was sold to many European artists from the 15th to 16th century. It is interesting to note that a few famous paintings, such as Van Gogh’s “The Starry Night”, were essentially coated with pigments made from cow excrement. This practice was eventually outlawed because the cows, which are still widely perceived as sacred in India, ended up extremely malnourished.  

Thank goodness we do not need cows to make yellow pigments from mango leaves. 

The Mango Yellow pigments yielded from lake pigmentation are bright and slightly luminescent when applied. When brewed well with a generous, healthy bunch of leaves, the pigments can give a vibrant greenish-yellow hue as well. Mulling these pigments can be tricky however – they are sticky and requires one to put a bit more muscle into the process, but we noticed this characteristic of many plant-based yellow lakes.  

For those into the smaller things

There has been more attention paid to natural dyeing with mango leaves. The pigment responsible for the yellow gifted from mango leaves is mangiferin, another one of the many compounds from Nature’s very own pharmacy that scientists are studying as a potential molecule for cancer prevention and treatment. If you are interested in how mangiferin works as an antioxidant, you may read one of the articles published by the University of Central Lancashire here

Structure of mangiferin molecule.