Carmine lake

/ ka • chuh • neel /

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History of Carmine lake:

Cochineal lake
Cochineal, native to the New World, was used by the Aztecs for dyeing and painting and was brought to Europe in the sixteenth century following the Spanish conquest.

When Cortez and his conquistadors entered the Mexican capital, with its great market place, they found bales of finely-woven cotton and of delicate yarns spun from rabbit fur, dyed a thrilling carmine. Included in the tribute paid by each conquered state to Montezuma, emperor of the Aztecs, were many bags each containing millions of the dried bodies of a tiny red insect -- the cochineal bug that lives in colonies among tattered white tents of silk and wax spun on the pads of the prickly-pear cactus.

Killed in ovens, then dried in the sun, these produced the "silver cochineal' from which the finest dye was made, but it was more than a century before Europeans discovered the only chemical, tin oxide, that would deposit the pigment on wool or other fiber so that it would not wash off. Eventually the bugs were imported and grown in Spain, Italy, North Africa and other countries where the cactus can be grown. They are still grown in Mexico and India to furnish the permanent brilliant carmine for foods. drinks, cosmetics and artists' colors.


Kermes lake

In Asia and Europe, the ancient craftsmen understood the secrets of making several shades of red dye. One of the finest and most ancient was "kermes, ' and source of our word "crimson" and the Arabic name for a wingless insect living on certain species of European live oaks. These insects were scratched from the twigs with the fingernails and produced a powerful permanent scarlet dye believed to be that obtained from the Phoenicians by the Hebrews to dye the curtains of their tabernacle.Kermes carmine was used as a dye and a laked pigment in ancient Egypt, Greece and the near East and is one of the oldest organic pigments;

When was Carmine lake used?

Discovery Used until
Antiquity (Egyptian) continues in use
Other purples
(intro) - Carmine - Cobalt violet - Indigo