When that first spark ignited in my heart for the people of Tibet, I found that, to me, their culture was synonymous with saffron orange and maroon red. For the most part, this is because these are the colors that the monks wear.
The traditional robes worn by today’s Tibetan monks originated 2,500 years ago. Monks of that time, would scavenge cloth that had been discarded for reasons such as, being chewed by mice or oxen, being soiled by childbirth or menstruation, or being used to shroud a dead body. This cloth would be cleaned and any salvageable areas would be cut out and sewn together.
A dye would be made by boiling the bark of trees, plant juices, leaves, fruit and flower juices along with the roots and tubers of plants over a long period of time. The maroon color of the outer robes that we see used today became the traditional color of Tibetan monks because at the time it was the cheapest dye to produce. The inner robes are usually a bright saffron orange. Often, spices and heartwood from a jackfruit tree would be used to achieve this color.