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.

Guess you know why our Brand name “Xiapism” by now, aren’t you?


紅樹染在50年代曾經是馬來西亞、西海岸的漁民所用的一種技術。當時的漁網都是布繩或麻繩編織而成的。經常浸泡在海水中,很快就會腐爛破損而必須修補。為了增進漁網的耐用度,漁民們會在沒有出海作業時把漁網浸泡在用紅樹皮烹煮過的樹皮汁裡,再把漁網高高的掛起來曬。經過這樣的處理,漁網會更耐用。他們也會把奶粉袋做成衣服,染上紅樹汁,在出海作業時,這衣服就成了他們的防風外套。這紅樹染當時的漁民稱為「Ni Xiap 染澀」,閩南發音。可能是當時的漁民大多是福建閩南人吧。現在的漁網都是尼龍材質,也有其他材質的防風外套了,所以這紅樹染已經沒有漁民使用了。

在2018年,我們重新發現了這古老的自然染法,并在2019年創立了 Xiapism 樹皮色這個品牌。讀完這篇文章大家應該知道為什麼我們品牌叫Xiapism了吧?