In July 2019, I read an interesting history book, A Minimalist History of China in the Museums. The author, Jingwei Zhang, weaved the history into each story through cultural relics in the museums. In the chapter of the Qing Dynasty, I noticed the small blue fabric—Chinese indigo dyed clothes. To my surprise, the way of traditional indigo dyeing is the same as the way of modern jeans dyeing. The only different thing between them is the previous one is made by human hands, the latter one is made by the factory.
The small blue fabric caught my eyes. I did want to tell a story related to my motherland but also related to America. So, I chose it as my topic, proposing some keypoints I’d like to dive into: what is indigo dyeing, the history of indigo dyeing, the process of making indigo dyeing, today’s indigo dyeing from China to other countries. But the first question came, where is the data? Actually, this question puzzled me during the whole project. Because the data about indigo is thin and scattered, very hard to be visualized. In this situation, I searched as many as books related to Chinese clothes, especially about indigo, exports, statistics.