The Geography of Colorants
More Red Colorants
Logwood, Haematoxylum campechianum, is a species of flowering tree native to Central America. The heartwood of the tree produces a strong black or red dye, which can be used on paper and fabric. When used to dye fabric, logwood is often paired with another dye, such as indigo, in order to improve colorfastness and create a deeper black. When used alone it can produce deep rich purples. On paper, such as hand painted maps, it has been used as a red colorant.
Synthetic red lead is a colorant created by heating synthetic white lead. The resulting pigment produces a dark, opaque red that was popular for use in the details of hand painted maps. Synthetic red lead is also known as minium, a name derived from the Minius river, where the lead originates. “Minium was so popular among Persian and Indian Mughal artists [of the Middle Ages] that their work became known as “miniatures”: the word is nothing to do with the size of their paintings" (Finlay, 2004).
Cinnabar & Vermillion
The mineral cinnabar is the natural form of the pigment called vermilion. Cinnabar was mined first in Spain then Mexico, Peru, Germany, Italy and the former Yugoslavia. Most recently, cinnabar has been mined in the United States to be used in manufacturing red paints. The names cinnabar and vermilion were once used interchangeably, but more recently vermilion has been accepted as the common name for this colorant. Vermilion can be used to make a range of orange and red hues, some of which can be found in antique, hand colored maps. The color produced on paper is a bright, clear red which is often paired with the darker, more opaque color from red lead.