Shikon-zome, like Ai-zome (indigo dyeing) and Benihana-zome (safflower dyeing), is one of Japan’s three great ancient dyeing traditions. Murasaki, the raw material, was already being cultivated as far back as the Asuka period (538 – 710). The mysterious power of the color purple is suggested by how many civilizations around the world have treated it as a “forbidden color” whose use was restricted only to those of high birth. Shikon-zome uses the dried roots of the murasakisō plant, which once grew wild throughout Japan. It was a labor-intensive process, requiring two years for mordanting and then keeping the thread away from sunlight for a few years to fix the color.