Turmeric has been used in Asia for centuries and is a major part of Ayurveda, Siddha medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, Unani, and the animistic rituals of Austronesian peoples. It was first used as a dye, and then later for its supposed properties in folk medicine.
From India, it spread to Southeast Asia along with Hinduism and Buddhism, as the yellow dye is used to color the robes of monks and priests. Turmeric has also been found in Tahiti, Hawaii and Easter Island before European contact. There is linguistic and circumstantial evidence of the spread and use of turmeric by the Austronesian peoples into Oceania and Madagascar. The populations in Polynesia and Micronesia, in particular, never came into contact with India, but use turmeric widely for both food and dye. Thus independent domestication events are also likely.
Turmeric was found in Farmana, dating to between 2600 and 2200 BCE, and in a merchant’s tomb in Megiddo, Israel dating from the second millennium BCE. It was noted as a dye plant in the Assyrians Cuneiform medical texts from Ashurbanipal’s library at Nineveh from 7th century BCE. In Medieval Europe, turmeric was called “Indian saffron.”
Turmeric is available in the market as in a whole dried form or in a powdered form. It is also used as an ingredient in the preparation of curry mixtures. Oils and oleoresins are extracted from turmeric which is mainly used as a coloring and flavoring agent in the food industry.
Turmeric is mainly used as a flavoring and coloring agent in the food industry. It is also used as a coloring in textiles and preparation of specific paints. In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine turmeric is a common ingredient. In India turmeric is largely used as a disinfectant in the day to day life and in religious ceremonies.
Though there are a number of locally grown varieties they are not specially identified. There are imported varieties namely, Gunter, Puna and Madurasi Majal. and they have been mixed with local varieties.
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