The story of mangrove natural dye

Treat Fishing Nets with Mangrove Natural Dye

In the 1950s, fishermen were using fishing nets made of jute or fibrous materials, long hours of soaking up in the sea water caused them to become rotten and would beak easily, hence much care was needed. In order to maintain the fishing nets better, fishermen along the East Coast of Malaysia would boil mangrove bark to get the dye bath, and immerse the nets in the bath, and then hang them up on high stilts to dry them under the sun, they discovered by doing so, the nets would last much longer.

At that time, milk powder were packed in thick canvas bags, the fishermen would take these bags, cut them up and make jackets out of them, and they would do the same thing, they would dye the jackets with mangrove bath to have them become good wind breakers for them to go to the sea, tannin in mangrove bath increased the density of the canvas and they became good protection against bad weather.

This treatment at that time were commonly known as “ni xiap”, it is a Hokkien word, perhaps its because most fishermen were Hokkien. Now, fishing nets are all made of long lasting nylon, and wind breakers can be bought easily, therefor, no fishermen are using mangrove natural dye anymore.