Hello Belize Info Center Fans. It has probably been over a year that I haven’t made a post on the website. This year has been quite busy. However, so as not to have a year with zero post, I decided to give my friends a little treat this Sunday afternoon, a few weeks before Christmas.
As you all know, the reason European settlers first came to Belize was for the logwood resource. As you are aware, Belize’s coast is low lying and perfect for the growth of Haematoxylon campechianum. Thus, the English, Scottish and Welsh pirates and buccaneers who roved the Caribbean, looking for Spanish ships to loot, around early 1600s, decided to settle in Belize when they felt that it was in their best interest. Shortly after, they began enslaving Africans to do their resource extraction. They were the first people after the Maya to make permanent settlements in Belize. This was about 200 years before any Central American nation became independent. The country also became the only home that the descendants of the Africans knew.
Today I will share a snippet of experimentation I have done in extracting logwood dye from a small piece of the plant I got. Please take a look at the colour which is a rich purple. You will remember that the colour purple has been very symbolic, since Biblical times. For example, the St Paul talks about a woman called Lydia who was in the small congregations of one of the ancient churches, the church of Philipi. Lydia was a hospitable business-woman and seller of purple clothes. Her purple colour was probably extracted from marine animals. Then there were the European nobles who used the colour purple as a sign of their status. Purple was a rich colour and Belize was one of the main sources of this important dye. Selling this dye made a lot of money for people in Europe but did very little for the quality of life for people in Belize.
In my experiments to recreate the logwood dye, I tried various mordants and got varying results, which you can see. I also tried various types of cotton. In my experiments, this purple colour does not reveal itself initially. When the wood chips are soaked in water, they exuded a red colour liquid. It was actually the mordant that converted the red to purple which is stable.
Belizean young people should be educated about the biological resources of this country. They should be encouraged to experiment with biological resources. This is actually a branch of the study of Economic Botany. I will continue to do my little part in this.