Safflower is the typical raw material for red dye. The cloth that has been dyed with safflower is called safflower dyeing, and it has become a specialty of Yamagata Prefecture. Safflower is not only used as dye, but also as a material to extract edible oil and as herb. It is a familiar plant in Japan.
It looks orange rather than red if you look at the flowers of safflower, but it will be safflower dyeing through a complicated process in which a yellow pigment is eliminated from Safflower in water, and a red pigment is extracted from the remnant using alkaline lye. The cloth that is dyed using a yellow pigment extracted first is called “yellow-dyeing” of safflower. In fact, most of pigments of safflower are yellow and it is said that it was yellow-dyeing that people had used. The cloth that is dyed using a red pigment is a thing for people in a high position. It is said that the cloth with dark red dyed repeatedly many times is more valuable. As well as other dyeing with vegetables, it has been replaced by the chemical dye since the Meiji era, but it was resurrected as traditional crafts in recent years and small goods such as handkerchiefs and scarves with reasonable price are popular as souvenirs.