Why was galena used as a black pigment, when soot is more black and also more abundant?

Why was galena used as a black pigment, when soot is more black and also more abundant?

Throughout centuries, starting in antiquity at least, galena (PbS) is reported as a black pigment. This is for painting but also (in Egypt and Rome) as a cosmetic. Soot is a more effective pigment though. And while Galena is common for a mineral, it was certainly less trivial than soot was in cultures that always had oil lamps around. Why did they choose galena?

Egyptians worked extensively with limestone from the cliffs of the Nile Valley. Alongside this they used other soft rocks such as sedimentary sandstone and greywacke (quartz, feldspar and dark, mineral-based sandstone), the mineral calcite (crystalline calcium carbonate) and metamorphic schist.

They also made use of harder rock such as the sedimentary diorite and granodiorite, igneous granite and basalt, and metamorphic quartzite. All these were used for statues, temples, tombs, stelae and temple furniture. To shape and smooth hard rocks such as granite, the Egyptians used copper saws and drills with abrasive sand, dolerite as hammer stones, and sand containing quartz. Evidence of this can be seen on the famous ‘unfinished obelisk’ in the Aswan quarries (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Unfinished Obelisk Aswan Quarries. © Shutterstock.

The soft stone was often covered with a plaster layer and then painted while the harder stone was often left natural and chosen for its colour in relation to use. Black rocks referred to the life-giving silt of the Nile. Because they were black they were used for art relating to life-giving situations, like Osiris, the god of resurrection. Green stones were used for living things and red, brown, and yellow to refer to sun gods.

Before stone could be painted it had to be smoothed and holes filled with plaster. On rock a layer of mud was laid then plastered with a smoother layer as the painting surface. Scenes were laid out in a marked off area gridded with squares. This was to help with proportionality of objects. The paint was painted on in flat washes one colour at a time. This gave depth and different hues to the painting.

16. Cat worship in Ancient Egypt

The Gayer Anderson Cat, Late Period, British Museum

Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats and were the first society to domesticate them. There were severe penalties for mistreatment, killing, or eating cats and unlike other animals they were often mummified and buried in tombs dedicated to the goddess Bastet. Cat figurines made from wood, stone and bronze can be found in museums and collections across the world.

Earwax color chart: What to know

Earwax, or cerumen, is a natural substance that the ears produce to help protect the ear canal and eardrum.

Earwax plays essential roles in ear health. It helps remove debris from the ear canal, prevents foreign bodies and particles from penetrating deep into the ear, and it even helps protect against germs.

The ears are also relatively self-regulating. Thanks to the motion of talking and chewing, as well as the shape of the ear itself, earwax naturally moves up and out of the ear.

Old earwax eventually moves out of the ear canal and falls out naturally, taking any debris and dead skin cells along with it.

In this article, learn what different colors and textures of earwax indicate, as well as how to safely clean out the ear.

Earwax can be a variety of colors, including:

  • off white
  • yellow
  • bright orange
  • dark orange
  • brown
  • black

Earwax is most often amber orange to light brown, wet, and sticky. For some people, it is drier and lighter in color, closer to off white or yellow.

In general, the color has a bit to do with the age of the earwax. Newer earwax tends to be lighter in color, and it darkens as it ages and picks up more debris.

The color, texture, and amount of earwax vary naturally from person to person. For most people who produce a regular amount of earwax, the ears can easily remove the wax on their own. This happens at varying speeds, often leading to different textures of earwax.

However, some people produce more wax than is common, or the ears may produce more wax when a person is very stressed. When this happens, the ears may not be able to get rid of the wax fast enough, and blockages can occur.

Blockages in the ear can change the color and texture of the wax. If the person cannot remove the wax, the ear canal may become fully blocked, which could impair hearing and increase the risk of infection.

Infections and injuries can cause discharge from the ear that may be:

The texture of earwax changes as the wax ages. Also, genetics and a person’s age may play roles.

An older study, from 2006 , has linked people of East Asian descent to earwax that is typically dry and flaky.

Also, children tend to have softer earwax that is lighter in color, while adults tend to have darker, harder earwax.

While varying shades and textures of earwax can come from healthy ears, there are still some instances in which a person should see a doctor.

Anyone experiencing discharge from the ear that is not earwax should consult a doctor, as this could be a sign of an ear infection.

Also, see a doctor if there is blood in earwax. Additionally, anyone who is prone to buildups of earwax should consult a doctor at the first sign of a blockage, such as muffled hearing.

Some people are more likely to produce an excess of earwax, including people who:

  • have very high-stress lifestyles
  • have chronic ear infections
  • are older
  • have a lot of hair in their ears
  • have a deformation in their ear canals

These people have a risk of blockages and buildups of earwax. If they experience any symptoms, such as muffled hearing, they should see their doctors to discuss how to safely eliminate the wax from their ears.

The number one rule for taking care of the ears is to simply leave them alone. Do not insert anything into the ear canal to try to remove earwax, including fingers, cotton swabs, or any pointy tool or instrument.

Putting anything into the ear canal only increases the risk of pushing wax deeper in, where it may get stuck and cause blockages.

Also, avoid using ear candles, which involves inserting a waxed tube into the ear and lighting it on fire. Some practitioners claim that this helps remove wax and reduce other symptoms of ear issues, but no scientific evidence supports this claim.

Authors of an editorial published by the American Academy of Audiology warn that even when a person uses an ear candle correctly, it can cause serious injuries, including burns. The authors also note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued advisory notices and taken other steps to prevent the use of these tools.

To safely clean the ears, gently wash the outer ears with mild soap and water. Let this rinse into the ear canal to clear away any wax that has fallen away from the walls of the canal. It is safe to rinse this wax away because it has performed its function.

Wipe away any excess moisture or external wax with a towel. For most people, this is all the cleaning that their ears need.

If the ears are producing too much wax, earwax thinning drops are the only safe way to help wax leave the ear canal at home.

A person inserts a few drops of medicated liquid into the ear canal and lets the liquid sit for a couple of days to break up extra earwax. Earwax drops often contain hydrogen peroxide or glycerin.

After a few days, the person adds warm water to a silicone syringe and gently sprays it into their ear for irrigation, tilting their head to let the liquid drain out.

If this does not work, see a doctor to discuss options for removing the blockage.

Anyone who has an eardrum perforation or an eardrum tube should not use the drops or irrigation. Consult a doctor about alternatives.

A range of ear irrigation kits is available online or in stores. Follow the specific instructions in each kit to ensure ear safety.

The History of Ink/The History of Ink

NK is history, in the common acceptation of the word for what is generally denominated history—is ink diffused on paper in certain definite lines. Yet ink has no history written or composed hitherto. In view of this deficiency—which betrays a singular negligence (on the part of historians and all literary men) and a thoughtless ingratitude to this indispensable means of accomplishing and preserving their work—we propose to supply the desideratum, by furnishing, on these little pages, what is indicated by the above title, in the fullest sense and widest scope of the term, including its etymology, its chemistry, and all that can be suggested and justified by the title, or fairly demanded under it, or claimed from it.

​ The great common error of general historians, ancient and modern, (with a very few exceptions among the moderns,) has been, that they have given to the world little else than narrations and descriptions of wars and treaties, of governmental changes and political events, omitting to record the often far more important facts in the history of literature, science, and the arts of utility, by which the progress of civilization and the development of the human race in its higher capacities have been effected or aided. The great "Instaurator of the Sciences" was the first to call attention to these omissions and deficiencies in all previous histories, and to indicate the duty of historians to avoid these errors,—setting a good example in that respect, in the specimen, or model work, which he produced as a pattern,—his history of the reign of Henry the Seventh. Since his time, many special histories of inventions and of the arts of utility have been written and the numerous cyclopaedists have largely contributed to this object still, however, leaving many vacancies to be filled in this department of human knowledge, of which the one before us can not be considered the least worthy of the labor needful for its investigation.

The word ink has been variously defined by lexicographers, cyclopaedists and chemists but the following terms may be taken as fully expressing the common qualities, and essential specific characteristics of all substances included under the name.

Ink is a colored liquid employed in making lines, characters or figures on surfaces capable of retaining the marks so made. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, (vol. xii., p. 382, 1856,) gives the following definition: ink .—The term ink is usually restricted to the fluid employed in writing with a pen. Other kinds of ink are indicated by a second word, such as red ink, Indian ink, marking ink, sympathetic ink, printers' ink, etc. Common ink is, however, sometimes distinguished as writing ink.

As to color ,—black is and has always been preferred in ordinary uses. For ornamental purposes and for occasionally useful distinctions, various other tints have been and are adopted—as blue, red, green, purple, violet, yellow—and so on, according to the fancy of the maker, or purchaser, or consumer.

The substance employed to receive and preserve the marks thus made is now ​ almost universally Paper. Parchment is still used in many legal documents and writings of form and ceremony. Cotton, linen, and silk, when woven into fabrics for garments and like uses, are also subjected to marks of ink for the purpose of identifying property. So are wooden and leathern surfaces, in similar conditions. It is also employed in writing on stone, in the quite modern art of lithography.

Though its great original and continual employment is in writing, it must be remembered that it is also largely used in the delineation of objects by artists. Ink and paint are mutually convertible to each others uses, but are yet so distinct in character and objects, that no one regards the words as synonymous, and no precise definition is needed to teach the distinction between them. As, for instance, in pen-and-ink drawings and sketches, the ink serves the purpose of paint. So likewise in the letters on sign-boards, &c. paint may be considered as a substitute for ink. The artist who traces his name on the canvas in a corner of his painting, employs paint in a similar manner. Printing-ink is used as black paint. In the best red inks, carmine (a paint in water-colors) is the essential ingredient. Indian Ink is used here only as paint,—in China, as ink. ​

The derivation of the English word " ink ," and of its representatives in various modern languages, has caused much perplexity to philologists, and has been the subject of many erroneous conjectures. We suffix the names by which it is known in those nations who have most employed it:

English, Ink.
Low-Dutch, Neder-Duytsch, Hollandisch, Inkt.
German or Deutsch, Dinte and Tinte.
Old German, Anker, Tincta, Tinta and Dinde.
Danish, Norwegian,
Norse, Icelandic,
> end> ight>,>> Blaeck, (India Ink, Tusch)
Swedish, Blaeck, (India Ink, Tusk)
French, Encre.
Old French, Enque.
Italian, Inchiostro.
Spanish, Tinta.
Portuguese, Tinta.
Illyrian, Ingvas.
Polish, Incaust.
Basque, Coransia.
Latin, Atranentum.
Mediæval Latin, Encaustum.
Greek, Melan.
Hebrew, D'yo.
Chaldee, N'kaso.
Arabic, Nikson, Anghas.
Persian, S'y'ah'o.
and Hindui.
> end> ight>,>> S'yaho, Rosh'na, kali, shira, mas,
murakkat, kalik, midad.
Sanscrit, Kali, (Black,)
Armenian, Syuaghin.

​ We might amuse ourselves by extending this tabular list indefinitely. Enough, however, has been already shown to illustrate a few remarkable facts which we wish to present that are connected with the etymology of our subject but we present a page of Lithographic illustrations which will enable any "curious reader" to trace the word further.

No dictionary of the English language gives us any help or light about the matter. Webster suggests "inchiostro," (the Italian word,) as the source of derivation and all the Italian lexicographers agree that inchiostro Is from the later Latin encaustum , which is in fact Greek, Εγκαυστον , (Encauston,) "burned-in or corroded." Encaustum became corrupted into "enchaustrum," from which the transition to "inchiostro" is by the regular form of derivation from the Latin to the Italian,—the L before a vowel giving place to a short I—as "piano" from planus . (The ch , in Italian is always sounded hard, like the English K.)

Leaving the French word encre, as on the middle ground between different etymologies, and affording no light either way,—we find the Spanish and Portugese "tinta," and the German (a language widely remote from those of the Iberian peninsula in origin and affinities) "dinte, ​ tinte and tincta," forcibily reminding us of the Latin participle tinctus, tincta, tinctum , from the verb tingo , which is represented in English by tinge , and other derivatives, such as "tincture," &c. We cannot refuse to recognise the Holland-Dutch "Inkt" as from the same root to which we have thus traced the corresponding word in a language which we may call its "cousin-German" and it is hard to exclude the Old French "Enque" and modern "Encre" from this circle of relationship.

Then, we are somewhat impressed by the discovery of the word Ingvas in the Illyrian, a language of the Slavonic (or more properly Slovenic) stock, like the Polish,—and, like that, enriched by words derived from the Latin. The Polish, however, presents as with the actual Graeco-Latin Encaustrum.

Still more remote from the English and Italian, we find among the Orientals of the Shemitish race, anghas and nikson in the Arabic, and n'kasho in the Chaldee, with a manifest resemblance in sound, and with an actual possession of the same elements and radical letters, N. K. Yet we do not think of suggesting that these words had a common origin with the corresponding ones in European Languages, ​ though so nearly coincident in sound. The case is simply one of accidental resemblance, a remarkable coincidence,—(because occurring at three different and remote points,) but yet a coincidence not wholly unparalelled .

The probability is that the English word, like the Dutch, German, Spanish, &c., came from the Latin tinctum , but it may be left "an open question" for if we had not these instances to direct the formation of our opinions, we should have no hesitation in acknowledging the Italian Inchiostro as the true etymon just as, if we had neither of these in view, we might suspect the origin of our word to be in the (Oriental anghas or nikson .

The Ethiopic kalama at first sight appears to be related to the Hindustani kali but the latter is merely the word in all the languages of Hindustan for black,—while the former is just a modification of the Greek and Latin calamus , a reed or pen,—the instrument (naturally enough) giving its name to the liquid which was essential to its use.

The word encaustum connects, in a very interesting and instructive manner, both with the history and the chemistry or manufacture of our modern inks, and is a satisfactory, demonstration of the utility of such ​ etymological researches as those in which we have been here indulging.

The one great distinction between the ancient and the modern inks is this: The old inks were paints the writing inks now in use by all nations (excepting those of Southern Asia) are dyes . That is the whole difference.

It would be well to give a definition or limitation of the words "Ancient" and "Modern." No one has done it hitherto. We will not attempt to fix the point precisely, but may reasonably say that the period intervening between September, A.D. 410, (when Rome was taken by alaric and his Visigoths) and December 25, A.D. 800, (when Karl the Great, otherwise called Charlemagne, was crowned in Rome by Pope Leo with the title of Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire) contains the interval between antiquity and modern times.

The introduction of Paper as the common material upon which significant characters were to be marked, must have had a great agency in producing a change in the composition of the liquid employed in making the marks.

Parchment was the substance in use, among all the European nations, as the substratum of manuscript, from the time when the Egyptian papyrus went out of fashion. ​ Both the parchment and the papyrus were written upon, by Romans, Greeks and Hebrews, with pens made of small reeds, dipped in a fluid composed of carbon, (not dissolved, but) held in a state of suspension by an oil or a solution of gum.

The letters were originally painted on the surface of the papyrus, parchment, board, or other material so employed—the ink not being imbibed or absorbed by the substance on which it was shed, but remaining on the surface, capable of being removed by washing, scraping, rubbing, or any similar process. The surface thus cleansed was then in a state to receive a new inscription so that erasions and inscriptions might be indefinitely repeated upon it, as upon a modern sign-board.

Modern Ink , on the contrary, leaves its marks upon paper, parchment, &c., by penetrating the material to such a depth that it cannot be erased (mechanically) without the removal or destruction of the surface which it has tinged. Chemical agency, as of various acids, chlorine and its compounds, is generally employed, therefore, to discharge the color from modern writing-ink-marks. Carbon , in all its common forms, (charcoal, bituminous coal, anthracite, jet, plumbago, lignite, ivory-black, lamp-black ​ and soot,) is wholly unalterable in color by any of these chemical means.

Printing Ink (which is composed of carbon suspended in a drying oil) is, in essential characteristics, identical with the writing-inks of the ancient Romans and Greeks. It is impressed upon the surface of paper, (that which is unsized or bibulous being commonly preferred,) and is retained unchanged by the action of moisture, on account of the insolubility of the carbon and the repulsion between oil and water. These two forms of ink are therefore the exact opposites of each other, in the qualities on which their use and permanence depend. The most important peculiarity of the modern writing-ink, as contrasted with the ancient, naturally suggested the two names which it bore in the Latin and Greek of the middle ages, or (to speak more definitely,) the time of its invention and first employment. It was a Tincta, a DYE , or STAIN , which tinged and tinctured the material on which it was placed, entering among its fibres as coloring fluids do into cloth in the ordinary processes of manufacture. It penetrated the substance of the paper (as caustics or powerful chemical solvents and corrosives act on the organic fibre): it bit in, or burned in,—and was therefore well named ENCAUSTON and Incaustum. ​


We do not propose to furnish recipes, prescriptions, directions or instructions for the manufacture of this article. No mere statement in words can enable any one to arrive at perfection, or excellence, or practical success in the production of this article, or any articles whatsoever. A skill and carefulness, which can be acquired only by long and laborious experience, are indispensable to the management of the various processes. Time is an essential element of success in this peculiar art and that makes absolutely requisite also, two other conditions,—patience and capital. We shall therefore be brief on this point,—referring those who wish for minute details, to the cyclopaedias, dictionaries of the arts and sciences, and the larger works on practical chemistry. The following we venture to present as the most correct account of this subject, derived from the latest scientific and practical authorities.

The composition of ink varies according to its colors, and the purposes to which it is to be applied.

Common black writing-ink is the tannate of the sesquoxyd of iron mixed with a smaller quantity of the gallate of the ​ sesquoxyd of iron. When in the liquid form, it is generally the tannate and gallate of the protoxyd but after being long kept, (or put on the paper and drying there,) it absorbs more oxygen from the atmosphere and thus the saline compounds become the per-tannate and per-gallate, which are blacker than the tannate and gallate of the protoxyd. It is thus and therefore that good modern ink is known by the simple test-quality of darkening by age. On the other hand, when writing becomes yellow, pale or indistinct by age, it is from the decay of the imperfectly combined vegetable astringent,—the marks on the paper or parchment being then little more than the stain of the per-oxyd (that is the sesquoxyd) of iron. If the written surface be then carefully washed or even moistened with the infusion of nut-galls, it will be rendered blacker, and if before indistinct will become legible. This may sometimes be better accomplished by first applying a weak solution of oxalic acid or very dilute muriatic (hydro-chloric) acid, and then delicately laying on the infusion of galls.

When the writing paper has been made of inferior rags, bleached with chlorine, the best ink used upon it is liable to become discolored.

Nut-gulls or gall-nuts (Gallæ-tinctoriæ) ​ are excrescences growing upon the leaves or twigs of oak trees, (especially the Quercus infectoria,) caused by the puncture of an insect (the Cynips gallæ-tinctoriæ) which deposits its eggs in the perforations thus made. The Quercus infectoria is most abundant in Persia, Mesopotamia, Syria and Asia Minor, from which countries the galls are brought in large quantities to the manufactories of Europe and America. The best are called " Aleppo galls," from the name of the Syrian city which is the chief original market for them. Those from Smyrna are also highly esteemed.

They contain the vegetable astringent principle called tannin in greater abundance than any other known substance. This is chemically resolved into the acids known as the tannic and gallic. All the woods and barks employed in the manufacture of leather by the tanning of hides contain this astringent matter in various degrees. The oak and the hemlock, for instance, are in extensive and familiar use for this purpose in the United States. The blackness of ink, as has been already indicated, is derived from the combination of these two acids with oxydized iron in saline compounds which are insoluble in water, and are therefore precipitated or deposited at the bottom of the fluid, unless held mechanically ​ suspended in it, by gum, sugar or some similar substance which gives the quality of viscidity to its solutions.

The following will serve as a good formula for making common ink, and will be enough to give an idea of the ordinary and general mode of its composition:—"Take of Aleppo galls finely bruised, six ounces,—sulphate of iron, four ounces,—gum Arabic, four ounces,—water, six pints. Boil the galls in the water for about two hours, occasionally adding water to supply the loss from evaporation then add the other ingredients and keep the whole for two months in a wooden or glass vessel, which is to be shaken at intervals. Then strain the ink into glass bottles, adding a few drops of creosote to prevent mouldiness."

Besides its property of viscidity, the gum possesses the power of preventing the ink from being too fluid: and it also serves to protect the vegetable matter from decomposition. The great desideratum or requisite is that the ink should flow with perfect freedom from the pen, to allow rapid writing, and that it should adhere to the paper, or "bite into it," so as not to be effaceable by washing or sponging. The great defect to be avoided and prevented is the want of durability. The writing ink ​ of the ancients was characterized by great permanency, being composed of finely pulverized carbon mixed with a mucilaginous or adhesive liquid. India or China Ink is of this composition: it is formed of lamp-black and size or fine animal glue, with the incidental addition of perfumes. It is used in China with a brush, both for writing and painting on Chinese paper and it is employed in other countries for making drawings in black and white,—the different depths of shade being produced by varying the degree of dilution in water.

Inks of other colors than black were anciently used only for purposes of ornamental and decorative writing. In later and present times, red and blue inks have been extensively employed in ruling account-books and other paper for like uses. Blue ink, within ten or more years past, has been, with many, a preferred fluid for common writing.

Blue ink, when properly made, flows with great ease and rapidity from the pen, dries almost instantly on the paper, and has been supposed or expected to be quite durable, and unchangeable in color, under ordinary vicissitudes. Yet, experience has demonstrated the contrary,—though various and well-contrived chemical combinations have been attempted for the purpose. Blue inks that change to black some time after writing ​ are very popular. On well-made and high-priced paper, and with gold pens, such inks, if prepared by good chemists, may ultimately prove worthy of the high esteem in which they are held but their absolute and unchangeable durability is yet to be tested by experience, before they can be safely employed for writings of permanent value, and relied on for use in making records designed for preservation and reference during a long course of years.

There is a compound of bichromate of potash and extract of logwood, which forms a very cheap and convenient writing fluid. Dr. Ure pronounces it “a vile dye.” Yet it may have its utilities, in localities remote from the centres of civilization and commerce,—as in the new settlements in western America, in Australia, &c., and for travelers in Africa, in the Arctic and other barbarous or uninhabited regions. The following is the best formula which can be given for this compound and we present it on the highest chemical authority:—“Take Bichromate of potash, 1-4 oz.—Extract of logwood 1 oz.—Boiling water, 1 gallon.”

We have taken the trouble to give this prescription or formula, because some quacks have been peddling it all over the country, at all sorts of prices, varying (according to the credulity and liberality of purchasers) ​ from 50 cents to $250. We give it for just what it is worth and that is—exactly what this book costs the reader.

The longest and most valuable passage which we find in the writings of any English author, who has alluded to our subject, is the following, from " The Origin and Progress of Writing, " by Thomas Astle, F. R. S., F. A. S. &c., pp. 209 to 212, 2d edition, London, 1803.

" Of Inks . Ink has not only been useful in all ages, but still continues absolutely necessary to the preservation and improvement of every art and science, and for conducting the ordinary transactions of life.

"Daily experience shows that the most common objects generally prove most useful and beneficial to mankind. The constant occasion we have for Ink evinces its convenience and utility. From the important benefits arising to society from its use, and the injuries individuals may suffer from the frauds of designing men in the abuse of this necessary article, it is to be wished that the legislature would frame some regulation to promote its improvement, and prevent knavery and avarice from making it instrumental to the accomplishment of any base purpose.

​ "Simple as the composition of Ink may be thought, and really is—it is a fact well known, that we have at present none equal in beauty and color to that used by the ancients as will appear by an inspection of many of the manuscripts above quoted, especially those written in England in the times of the Saxons. What occasions so great a disparity? Does it arise from our ignorance, or from our want of materials? From neither , but from the negligence of the present race as very little attention would soon demonstrate that we want neither skill nor ingredients to make Ink as good now as at any former period.

"It is an object of the utmost importance that the Records of Parliament, the Decisions and Adjudications of the Courts of Justice, Conveyances from man to man, Wills, Testaments, and other Instruments which affect property, should be written with Ink of such durable quality as may best resist the destructive powers of time and the elements. The necessity of paying greater attention to this matter may be readily seen by comparing the Rolls and Records that have been written from the fifteenth century to the end of the seventeenth, with the writings we have remaining of various ages from the fifth to the twelfth century. Notwithstanding the superior ​ antiquity of the latter, they are in excellent preservation but we frequently find the former, though of more modern date, so much defaced that they are scarcely legible.

"Inks are of various sorts, as—encaustic or varnish, Indian ink, gold and silver, purple, black, red, green, and various other colors. There were also secret and sympathetic Inks.

"The Ink used by the ancients had nothing in common with ours, but the color and gum. Gall-nuts, copperas and gum make up the composition of our Ink whereas soot, or ivory-black, was the chief ingredient in that of the ancients so that very old charters might be suspected, if written with Ink entirely similar to what we use but the most acute and delicate discernment is necessary in this matter for some of the [black] Inks formerly used were liable to fade and decay, and are found to have turned red, yellow or pale. Those imperfections are however rare in manuscripts prior to the tenth century.

"There is a method of reviving the writing but this expedient should not be hazarded, lest a suspicion of deceit may arise, and the support depended on [be] lost.

" Golden Ink was used by various nations, as may be seen in several libraries, and in the archives of churches. Silver ​ Ink was also common in most countries. Red Ink, made of vermilion, cinnabar, or purple, is very frequently found in manuscripts but none are found written entirely with ink of that color. The capital letters, in some, are made with a kind of varnish, which seems to be composed of vermilion and gum. Green Ink was rarely used in charters, but often in Latin manuscripts, especially in those of the latter ages. The guardians of the Greek emperors [or rather the Regents of the Empire] made use of it in their signatures, till the latter [the monarchs during minority] became of age. Blue or Yellow Ink was seldom used but in manuscripts.[. ] The yellow has not been in use, as far as we can learn, for six hundred years.

"Metallic and other characters were sometimes burnished. Wax was used as a varnish by the Latins and Greeks, but much more by the latter, with whom it continued a long time. This covering or varnish was very frequent in the ninth century.

" Color . The color of Ink is of no great assistance in authenticating manuscripts and charters. There is in my library a long roll of parchments, at the head of which is a letter that was carried over the greatest part of England by two devout monks, ​ requesting prayers for Lucia de Vere, Countess of Oxford, a pious lady, who died in 1199,—who had formed the house [or convent] of Henningham in Essex, and done many other acts of piety. This roll consists of many membranes or skins of parchment sewed together,—all of which, except the first, contain certificates from the different religious houses that the two monks had visited them, and that they had ordered prayers to be offered up for the Countess, and had entered her name on their bead-rolls. It is observable that time hath had very different effects on the various inks with which these certificates were written. Some are as fresh and black as if written yesterday others are changed brown and some are of a yellow hue. It may naturally be supposed that there is a great variety of handwritings upon this but the fact is otherwise, for they may be reduced to three.

"It may be said in general, that black ink of the seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth centuries, at least among the Anglo-Saxons, preserves its original blackness [thereby meaning that its "form had not lost all its original brightness"] much better than that of succeeding ages,—not even excepting the sixteenth and seventeenth, in which it was frequently very bad. Pale ink very rarely ​ occurs before the four last centuries.

"Peter Caniparius, Professor of Medicine at Venice, wrote a curious book concerning Ink, which is now scarce, though there is an edition of it printed in London, in 1660, quarto. The title is—De Atramentis cujuscunque generis opus sanè novum. Hactenus à nemine promulgatum. [ A work actually new, concerning inks of every kind whatsoever—hitherto published by no one. ] This work is divided into six parts. The first treats generally of inks made from Pyrites , [sulphurets of iron and copper,] stones and metals. The second treats more particularly of Inks made from metals and Calxes . [Better say calces, or, to speak chemically, crystallized salts deprived of their "water of crystallization," or carbonic acid, by the action of heat.]—The third treats of Ink made from soots and vitriols.—The fourth treats of the different kinds of Inks used by the libraries or book-writers [professional scribes or copyists of manuscripts before the invention of the art of Printing,] as well as by printers and engravers, and of staining (or writing upon) marble, stucco, or scagliola, and of Encaustic modes of writing as also of liquids for painting or coloring of leather, cloths made of linen or wool, and for restoring inks that have been defaced by time, as ​ likewise many methods of effacing writing—restoring decayed paper—and of various modes of secret writing.—The fifth part treats of Inks for writing, made in different countries, of various materials, and colors,—as from gums, woods, the juice of plants, &c., and also of different kinds of varnishes.—The sixth part treats of the various operations of extracting vitriol, and of its chemical uses.

"This work abounds with a great variety of philosophical, chemical and historical knowledge, and will give great entertainment to those who wish for information on this subject.

"Many curious particulars concerning Ink will be found in a "Weckerus de Secretis." (Printed at Basle, in 1612, octavo.)—This gentleman also gives receipts for making Inks of the color of Gold and Silver, composed as well with those materials as without them,—also, directions for making a variety of Inks for secret writing, and for defacing of [effacing] Inks. There are many marvelous particulars in this last work, which will not easily gain credit with the judicious part of mankind."

We have chosen to give Mr. Astle's paragraphs on this subject, entire, "pure and simple," (with no corrections or alterations, except as to a few particulars in ​ spelling, punctuation, &c.,) including some unnecessary formal verbiage,—instead of embodying his facts and observations in our own language. We shall do likewise with other authors whose books we use in this work, as the most effectual way of giving each of them due credit for their several discoveries and statements, and, at the same tune, securing our own just claims to what we herein present as of our own discovery or production. But we will give no credit to a mere compiler or plagiarist.

Mr. Astle was keeper of the ancient Records of the English Government in the Tower of London, and thus enjoyed extraordinary facilities for ascertaining such facts, and making such observations as he furnishes in his very useful, interesting, and elegantly illustrated book. As to what he says (in his seventh paragraph) about the inexpediency of "hazarding" any effort to revive writing which has faded or become illegible, from fear of "a suspicion of deceit,"—the caution must of course be limited to cases where the words proposed to be restored to legibility have reference to some question of disputed title, or other matter in litigation or controversy. Mr Astle would not have hesitated (any more than Angelo Mai) to use any possible process for the restoration of a palimpsest ​ manuscript of a long-lost work of Cicero or Livy, or of any document worth the labor and the time requisite to revive the letters or read them. Mr. Astle's slight lapse of pen or mind, in stating (eighth paragraph) that "Blue or yellow ink was seldom used except in manuscripts," reminds us of Noah Webster's reason, given in the first edition of his quarto dictionary, for the use of the word "Hand" instead of "Island," viz., that the latter spelling was "found only in books." Perhaps the venerable Mr. Astle would have been as much astonished to learn that he himself had always written manuscript, whenever he put pen to paper, as the Bourgeois Gentilhomme, in Moliere's comedy was to learn that he "had been speaking prose all his life."

A comparatively recent author gives the following as the sum and substance of his knowledge on this division of the subject of our book.

Dark-colored liquids were used to stain letters previously engraved on some hard substance, long before they were made to flow in the calamus or pen for forming them on a smooth surface and the Chinese made their "Indian Ink" in the same ​ manner as now, 1120 years before the Christian Era but, only used it, at that time, to blacken incised characters. [1] Ink was termed by the ancient Latin authors atramentum scriborium, [2] or librarium, to distinquish it from atramentum sutorium or calchantum. It was made of the soot of resin, or pounded charcoal, and other substances, mixed with gum, and not, like ours, of vitriol, gall-nuts, alum, &c. The earliest positive mention of ink is perhaps the passage in Jeremiah, in the Vulgate, "Ego scribebam in volumine, atramento." [3] ​

Gold liquids, and also silver, purple, red, green, and blue inks, were eventually used in manuscripts after the fourth century,—red and gold having been employed much earlier. St. Jerome speaks of rich decorations, which must have been executed with colored inks but, before his time, Ovid alludes not only to the purple charta, made use of for fine books, which were also tinged with an oil drawn from cedar-wood, to preserve them, but, also to titles written in red ink, which were the first kind of illuminations. The passage occurs in his first elegy, "Ad Librum:"

" Nec te purpureo velent vaccinia succo
Non est conveniens luctibus ille color.
Nec titulus minio, nec cedro charta notetur.
Candida nec nigra cornua fronte geras."

The last line proving, as Casley observes, that Ovid wrote upon a roll.

This author, not having been kind enough to translate Ovid for us, we are compelled to do it for him. This "Elegy" of the poet is addressed "To his Book" and the following words contain the meaning of the four lines above quoted:

Nor shall huckleberries stain [literally, veil ] thee with purple juice:
That color is not becoming to lamentations.
Nor shall title (or "head-letter") be marked with vermilion, or
⁠ paper with cedar,
Thou shalt carry neither white nor black horns on thy forehead
⁠ (or front, or frontispiece).

The word "huckleberries," we have rightly spelled here. The dictionaries generally are wrong in spelling the word "whortleberry" Huckleberry, or Hockleberry, is found in the kindred languages of Northern Europe.

Diplomas were seldom written in gold or colored inks but some charters of the German Emperors are known, not only in gold, but on purple vellum and Leukfeld mentions one of the year 912, ornamented also with figures while several early English charters have gold initial letters, crosses, &c. The black ink that has kept its color best, in mediaeval manuscripts, is that used from the tenth to the thirteenth century. The signatures of the Eastern Emperors are frequently in red ink.

Colored inks were common in mediaeval manuscripts,—the red being most usual for titles, which has given rise to the term Rubric. The writers of books (that is, the copyists,) often appended their names to the end of the work, generally in ink of a different color from that of the body of the work, stating the time and place in which the work was executed.

​ To this may be added, with advantage, some instructive account of

whose history is closely connected, to a great extent, with that of writing FLUIDS .

The Egyptian, and all other oriental and ancient scribes, who wrote upon stone, employed (of course) some instrument similar in character to the chisel of our modern tomb-stone cutters, or monument letterers. So with the Greeks and Romans, writing on surfaces of wax or wood, the instruments were the graphium, or glypheion, (the graver,) and the stilus, or caelum, all of steel or iron. When the use of a dark-colored liquid or Ink was introduced, there arose a necessity for instruments of very different material, and great flexibility, in opposition to the unyielding rigidity of the tools previously employed. Then were invented the first implements properly called Pens, or really resembling what we so denominate and use. These were universally made of vegetable material, growing in the tubular form, of convenient size, as the calamus, arundo, juncus, and, in general terms, the smaller stems of various plants called "reeds" and "rushes" in English. We have already mentioned the ​ uniform employment of the hair-pencil, or brush, by the Chinese, from the most ancient time of their writing. The quill, or feather-pen, was introduced during the fourth century.

We have alluded to the palimpsest manuscripts. This is the term applied to parchments that have been twice written upon,—the first writing being effaced to make room for the second. During the period commonly called "the dark ages," the monks and other scribes, copyists or book-makers, were in the habit of effacing the letters from old manuscripts, in order to make a clean surface for a new writing. In this way was caused the deplorable destruction of an immense and an inestimably valuable amount of ancient literature, of Greek and Roman history, poetry, eloquence and philosophy, merely to make room for mass-books, and other works of stupid superstition and mis-directed devotion, or, of scholastic theology and philosophy, now long ago universally condemned and exploded. Within the past and present generation, however, the learned world has been delighted by the surprising recovery of some of these long-lost treasures, through the skilful and ingenious labors of the deservedly famous Cardinal Angelo Mai, and others, whose researches in the ​ libraries of Rome, Milan, Padua, Naples, Florence, and other cities, have resulted in the restoration of inestimably precious writings, thus partially obliterated or obscured.

Brande’s Dictionary of Literature, Science, and Art, gives a brief summary of the same general facts in the article "Palimpsest."

The fullest and most elaborate exposition of the composition and manufacture of Ink which we have been able to find, however, is in the great French "Dictionnaire des Arts et Manufactures," by an association of distinguished savans, in two volumes, imperial octavo, Paris, 1853, article, ENCRE .

But, of all articles and treatises on the subject, which we have examined, that in the English Penny Cyclopaedia has the merit of containing, if not the best and longest account, a very good and satisfactory one,—because it expresses all the essential facts in the fewest and best-chosen because perfectly intelligible words. As we do not attempt to furnish a text-book for ink-manufacturers, we do not transcribe in full, or translate, from these and other works of great value on this subject.

That modern inks do not resist the decomposing and destructive power of ​ chemical agents (whether acids, alkalies, saline bodies or elements,) as well as the ancient inks, is the result of a necessity existing in their very composition and invention, and even in the use for which they were designed, and to which they are applied. A dye (like modern ink) is the result of chemical action, and is therefore subject to chemical re-agents yet, when well made, it is proof against mechanical action, such as washing, rubbing, and scraping nor can it be removed from paper to which it is applied, without destroying that material, or rendering that part of it practically useless. But, on the other hand, the ancient inks, which resist all chemical processes can be removed by mechanical action, such as has been named. If a new ink were compounded of the two, possessing the best properties of each, any writing executed with it could be effaced by the joint or successive action of mechanical and chemical applications.

It must be borne in mind that the ancient inks had one use for which writing ink is now never required and that was in making books, or multiplying copies of manuscripts indefinitely for general reading, or publication. The invention and universal employment of the art of printing has wholly done away with that.

​ Of Indelible Inks , or those used for marking fabrics of cotton, linen, &c., for the identification of ownership, it is not necessary to give any particular description. Their ordinary composition is very generally understood to be a solution of nitrate of silver, or some similar caustic, applied with a pen of proper material, to a portion of the surface of the cloth, which has been previously prepared by the absorption of a gummy or mucilaginous fluid dried upon it under pressure.

Sympathetic Inks are fluids employed in coloring drawings made for parlor amusement, or the diversion of children and youth. As, for instance, a landscape drawn in ordinary colors with a wintry aspect, cloudy or sombre sky, snow on the ground, and leafless trees, if properly touched with sympathetic inks, will, at any time, when brought near a fire, or otherwise subjected to a certain degree of warmth, change to the hues of summer, the sky becoming of a clear blue, the trees in full foliage, and the turf rich with grass, each with its appropriate shade of verdure, as also flowers of their various natural colors, &c., according to the fancy of the artist, the whole disappearing as the picture grows cold. The chloride, the nitrate, the acetate, and the sulphate of ​ cobalt, form sympathetic inks,—the first, blue, and (with the addition of nickel,) green the second, red. Chloride of copper gives a gamboge yellow bromide of copper, a fine rich brown.

Letters written with a solution of acetate of lead, are invisible until exposed to the action of sulphuretted hydrogen, which makes them distinct, with the lustrous greyish black of sulphuret of lead, the same substance which is called galena when it occurs as lead-ore. A weak infusion of galls or other vegetable astringent, will, if applied to paper in the form of letters, become legible when touched with any solution of iron. If written with a solution of ferro-cyanide of potash, letters will remain invisible until touched with a solution of sulphate of iron.

Astle speaks very impressively and justly on this point and we contribute to this part of our subject calling attention to facts almost daily occurring or brought to notice in this country, especially in the older cities and states, where town-records, parish-registers, and other documents of ancient date, and of high importance in ​ history, chronology, and genealogy, (as well as in regard to the title and inheritance of estates,) are found obscured and obliterated, causing losses, public and private, that need but to be mentioned to be properly estimated.

In the appendix will be found a facsimile of a sheet upon which various specimens of ink were thoroughly and fairly tested, which is a brief but emphatic demonstration of a difference of qualities by difference of results.

To show what can be done in the preservation of writing on material even frailer than such paper as we employ, we need but produce the specimen of Egyptian writing on papyrus, pronounced by Champollion to have been executed more than sixteen hundred (1600) years before the birth of Christ, yet still in preservation and legible, as may be seen by the representation we give of it.

This is undoubtedly as old as any specimen of phonetic characters or written letters (representing sounds, not ideas or objects,) extant, made by marking with a fluid upon any substance. There are inscriptions of letters upon stone, for which an earlier date of 4000 years B. C., is claimed with truth. But this is ink -writing, absolutely 3500 years old!

​ The Chinese assert that they had the art of writing at a period 2950 years before Christ but they have no records or monuments of that date and their characters even to the present time, are entire words, representing objects, ideas or things, not sounds. In the art of printing, they pretend to have preceded the European nations about 2400 years, dating their invention of it from the tenth century before Christ. But they have never advanced beyond the first form of the art—letters engraved on solid wooden blocks—the very method in use by Koster, and his associates, until the invention of moveable types by John Gansfleisch, otherwise named John Gutenberg or Guttemberg, in 1435. In both arts, writing and printing alike, the Chinese have remained stiff, solid and immovable at the first step, with the characteristic unchangeability of the yellow races of Eastern Asia, so opposite to the indefinitely progressive and self-improving energy of the nations whose progenitors proceeded west from the original source and centre of the earth's population. The same ink serves the Chinese both for writing and printing, as does the same kind of paper. This ink they invented about the end of the first century of the Christian era before which time ​ they wrote on boards or bamboos. Having next proceeded to the use of silken cloth for these purposes, the preparation of paper from that material naturally followed. Their ink, being carbonaceous and oleaginous, is, of course, (like that of the Egyptians and all the other ancients,) unfading, and unalterable by chemical agencies, though capable of being effaced or obscured by watery applications or exposure.

As to their claim of having invented the art of printing, we shall have something to say hereafter.

The Aztecs (in Mexico, before the Spanish discovery and conquest,) extensively employed a picture-writing, as a means of recording events, during a period not exceeding two centuries before that epoch. They had the art of manufacturing materials as a basis of such writing, from the Agave or American aloe, and from cotton, in the form of a very fine cloth. They also used prepared skins far the same purpose, the best specimens of which are pronounced to be more beautiful than the finest vellum. Their manuscripts were sometimes done up in rolls or scrolls, and frequently on tablets, in the form of a folding-screen. Their inks appear to have been coloring matters in watery solutions.

​ The oldest Phoenician ink-writing of which any specimen has been preserved, dates no later than the second century before Christ, and may be much older.

A fac-simile of a portion of it will be found among our illustrations, explained by notes referring to each by its number.

Greek manuscripts in ink (on papyrus), of the third century before Christ, are in existence. We give specimens of the oldest known,—one written in Egypt, 260 B. C., being an order from Dioscorides, an officer of the government of Ptolemy Philadelphus, to another named Dorion. The translation of the words is "Dioscorides to Dorion, greeting. Of the letter to Dorion the copy is subjoined." * * * We add other specimens, of the same and later periods.

Of Latin writing with ink, the earliest we can find is the palimpsest of Cicero's book, "De Republica," which had been partly effaced to make room for a copy of Augustin's commentary on the Psalms. It is believed by the learned that the original manuscript was executed at least as early as the second or third century of the Christian era. The restoration of this manuscript and the discovery of this long-lost and earnestly sought classic gem, were the work of Cardinal Mai, as before ​ mentioned. The original words are TETERRIMUS ET EX HAC VEL —— , and are written in two columns, on the page, while the later writing runs completely across the page.

Of the earliest writing executed in France, after that country received its name from those who conquered it, we give a specimen from the beginning of a charter of King Dagobert I, executed A. D. 628. The words are— QUOTIESCUMQUE PETITIONIBUS "—"However many times to petitions," &c. It is a confirmation of a partition of property between two heirs. The monogrammatic autograph of the Great Karl, (in modern times called Charlemagne,) we present also as an object of interest. A.D. 800.

The oldest specimen of writing in Great Britain which has been preserved to the nineteenth century, was a book believed to be not later than the year 600 of the Christian era. Astle has preserved an engraved specimen of it but the priceless original has since been destroyed by fire in the British Museum. It was said to be a book of Augustin. A specimen still in existence, dates between the years 664 and 670. It is a charter of Sebbi, King of the East Saxons, and is easily read:—"I, Sebbi, King," &c. We subjoin a few words from the commencement of a charter ​ of William the Conqueror, whose reign commenced in England, A. D. 1066:— Will : dei gra tia rex , &c., Sciatis me concessisse —"William, by the grace of God, King &c.: Know ye that I have granted—"

Isaac D'Israeli , in his Curiosities of Literature, (vol. 2, page 180, of the Boston edition,) gives a treatise on the "Origin of the Materials of Writing". He commences it with these remarkable words:

"It is curious to observe the various substitutes for paper before its discovery."

Now, of all "curiosities of literature," this little sentence is, in many respects, the most curious. He talks of substitutes for a thing not in existence, and not even a subject of imagination, conjecture, or conception. The name of D'Israeli does not indicate an Irish origin, but there is a strong affinity between this and those curiosities of literature commonly called "Irish bulls." As for instance, it reminds us of the couplet composed by an Irish officer of a garrison in the Scottish Highlands, in commemoration of the "good works" of General Wade, who had caused excellent military roads to be made through some of the previously almost impassable morasses of that region.

" Had you seen these roads before they were made,
You'd have lifted your hands and blessed General Wade."

​ Now, by way of comment on D'Israeli , we will say that "it is very curious," and moreover very strange, if not ridiculous, that he and Astle , (from whom he copies without a full and fair acknowledgment,) while "deeply complaining of the inferiority of our inks to those of antiquity," have utterly failed to ascertain the cause or even to notice the occasion of it. They, as well as other writers on the subject, observe the excellence of the ink employed in manuscripts of earlier ages, down to the twelfth century, and the inferiority of the ink used from that period down to the close of the seventeenth century, without turning attention to the great historical fact that the first paper-mill in Europe was established in that same twelfth century.

A peculiar cachexy (a variety of the disease known to pschyo -nosologists as the cacoëthes scribendi,) seems to be hereditary in the D'Israeli family. Benjamin D'Israeli , (the son of Isaac,) late Chancellor of the Exchequer, &c., when he rose in his place, as the Head or Representative of Her Majesty's government in the House of Commons, to pronounce a eulogy on the recently deceased Duke of Wellington, had the impudence to repeat, word for word, a very bald translation of the elogè delivered by Lamartine a few years previous, on ​ occasion of the death of one of the third-rate marshals of Napoleon I.

The D'Israeli family are evidently "some" of the children of Israel, who, (as we are told on good authority,) when they left Egypt borrowed euerything they could get, and never, so far as the record shows, either returned the articles so obtained, or made proper acknowledgments therefor.

The Chinese did manufacture paper from the bark of the small branches of a tree of the mulberry genus, (Morus Multicaulis?) and also from old rags, silk, hemp, and cotton, as early as the second century of the Christian era and it is supposed that from them the Arabs derived their knowledge of paper-making, an art which they introduced into Europe in the former half of the twelfth century, when the first paper-mill was put in operation in Spain, then under the Moorish dominion and, in 1150, this article, as manufactured by them, had became famous throughout Christendom.

[We use the words Arab and Moor indiscriminately here. The former is the name of the race the latter is limited to that portion found in Northern Africa. The Moor is the Arab of the West , (Al Mogreb, El Gharb,) in the Arabic, denominated Mogrebyn ,—a word which in Roman ​ and European mouths has smoothed and softened itself into a form suggestive of the origin of Maurus and Mauritania.]

Now, without coming to a positive conclusion on this subject, we feel authorized to pronounce what appears to be a reasonable opinion, derived from all the facts which we have just placed before the reader,—that the introduction of writing-paper among Europeans, was the occasion and cause of the invention and general employment of modern writing-ink by them.

The fact that the vegetable astringents form a deep or bluish black color, when combined with a salt of iron, had been known from time immemorial. Among the Romans, the atramentum sutorium,—"shoemaker's ink,"—was applied to a solution of sulphate of iron employed by them, as it is even to this day, by workers in leather, to blacken the surface of that material. This it does by uniting chemically with the tannin and gallic acid, by which the hide was converted into leather, whose blackened particles are therefore essentially identical with modern ink. The "copperas-water" is to be found in every shoemaker's shop, where it is used to color the cut edges of the heels and the rest of the soles.

​ As soon as the difficulty of writing with convenience and rapidity on paper, with the ancient carbonaceous ink, became manifest, the resort to the atramentum sutorium as a substitute for the atramentum scriptorium, was a matter of course, and was but a simple adaptation of a familiar substance to a new purpose, requiring no great ingenuity, and no invention whatever.

For a time, perhaps through a period of several centuries, a mixture of the two kinds of ink was employed by the Romans and this was undoubtedly the best composition that was ever invented for the purpose of deliberate, careful, elegant writing, designed and required to be permanent and unchangeable under constant exposure and handling,—as in the case of manuscript books before the art of printing was known. Even as early as the first century of the Christian era, in the time of Pliny the Younger, and probably long before that, a solution of sulphate of iron was commonly or frequently added to the carbonaceous and oleaginous mixture which we have described as the original writing-ink. In short, the atramentum sutorium was added, in moderate quantity, to the atramentum scriptorium, thus constituting it a chemical as well as a mechanical ink. So, modern ink may be improved in ​ blackness, durability and beauty, and rendered unchangeable in color under the action of the chlorides, acids, &c., by the intermixture of a small quantity of the very finest carbon, in the form of an impalpable powder. But, the great difficulty is—that the carbon clogs the pen, and renders the ink too thick to flow easily, so that it can never be used for rapid or ordinary writing. We can not give, in our own words, a better account of this matter than we find in the language of a very learned author in the Edinburgh Review, (volume 48, Dec. 1828).

The article here cited is entitled " The Recovery of Lost Writings ," and is nominally a review of [1] Gaii Institutionum Commentarii : [2] Institutes de Gaius, recemment decouvertes dans un Palimpseste de la Bibilotheque de Chapitre de Verone . [3] Jurisconsulti Ante-Justinianei reliquiae ineditae , ex codice rescripto Bibliothecae Vaticanae, curante Angelo Maio , Bibliothecae ejusdem Praefecti. The article begins on page 348 of this volume of the Review.

We quote from page 366—"The ink which the ancients generally used, was composed of lamp-black mixed with gum, as we are informed by Dioscorides and others, who give the receipt [recipe?] for making it. Ink of this kind may be ​ called carbonic: it possess the advantages of extreme blackness and durability, the writing remaining fresh so long as the substance on which it is written exists but as it does not sink into the paper, it is liable to the great inconvenience of being easily and entirely removed for, if a wet sponge be applied to it, the writing may be washed away, and no traces of the characters will remain. The facility with which documents might be thus obliterated, gave occasion to fraud, as an artful forger was able to remove such portions of the original writing as he might desire to get rid of, and thus profit by the absence of material words, or insert in the blanks which he had made, such interpolations as might serve his turn. Many common accidents, by which books and writings were exposed to wet, or even to damp, were also fatal, or at least highly injurious, to compositions and muniments of great value. Various expedients were therefore attempted to remedy an imperfection from which many must have suffered severely. Pliny informs us that it was usual, in his time, to mix vinegar with the ink, to make it strike into the paper or parchment, and that it, in some degree, answered the purpose. It should seem that vitriolic ink, such as we use at present, was also adopted soon afterwards, ​ which possesses, in perfection, the quality that was desired of sinking instantly into the paper, so as to make it far more difficult to discharge it without destroying the texture on which it is written, and of being perfectly secure against water by which Indian and other carbonic Inks are so easily effaced. It is not , however, equally secure against the effects of time for vitriolic ink gradually, fades away, becomes paler by degrees, turns brown and yellow, and is scarcely legible and sometimes, as the parchment grows yellow and brown with age, it disappears altogether. A compound kind of ink came next into use, which united the advantages and avoided the defects of the two simple sorts. Such a mixed ink was generally, used for several centuries and with this, the manuscripts that are now most fresh and legible appear to have been written. It is evident that the ink with which the original marks contained in the Palimpsest manuscripts that have been deciphered were written, was at least in part vitriolic: for the letters which had been rubbed out were rendered legible by the application of the infusion of galls In order to remove the original writing, the parchments on which the mixed ink had been used were, probably, first masked to take off the carbon, and thus partially to efface ​ the characters, and were afterwards scraped or rubbed with pumice, or some other suitable substance, to complete the process of destruction, by taking away mechanically the color that the vitriolic portion of the ink still preserved. It is but too provable that many manuscripts, the characters of which were entirely formed of the more ancient carbonic ink have been entirely destroyed, the letters having been washed off completely, and by the same simple means as the writing of a school-boy on a slate whilst the parchment still remains in our libraries, and is covered with more modern compositions which have sacrilegiously and too successfully usurped the place of more ancient and more valuable material. The tirades of Cyril or Jerome, of the tawdry eloquence of Chrysostom, are perhaps firmly established in quarters from whence [?] the Margites of Homer, or the comedies of Menander, were miserably dislodged.

Little or nothing can be added to the full and elaborate history of ancient and modern inks which is contained in this extract,—so thorough and complete in its analysis of the subject, and so clear in its distinct statements of the results of investigations in which some of the most acute minds of Europe have long been successfully employed, that we will not linger upon it with mere verbal criticism.

We can not present a more striking illustration of the change in the composition of inks about the time of the invention ​ of the art of printing, than is furnished by the annexed fac-simile of a page in the Biblia Pauperum , ("Bible for poor folks,") the oldest printed book in the world. This extraordinary book is of uncertain date. (No printed book has a date prior to 1457.) There are, as we believe, only two copies of it in America, one in the possession of James Lenox , of New-York,—the other in the Astor Library .

The maker of this book was the unconscious inventor of the art of printing. Wood-engraving was in use for ages before it occurred to the mind of man that a letter might be as easily reproduced in that way as a picture or figure. To convey scriptural history to the minds of the common people, the wood-engravers (whose art was invented to multiply and cheapen the production of playing-cards ) made little pictures representing scenes described, and events narrated, in the Bible. For the benefit of the few who could read, it was customary to write on the margin, or at the foot, of the page on which the woodcut was printed, a few words descriptive of the subject or object delineated. This was always done with a pen, by a regular scribe, until, one day, it occurred to the wood-engraver employed on the Biblia Pauperum, that these words might be as easily ​ engraved as the figures to which they referred, and of which they were the explanation. He put that idea in practice: and in an instant the sublime ART OF PRINTING was an "accomplished fact."

The advocates of the claims of Koster, Gansefleisch, (or Gutenberg,) Faust (or Fust,) and Schoeffer, to this invention, have wasted much labor in bringing forth conflicting testimony about them. The long-forgotten and now wholly unknown wood-engraver of the Biblia Pauperum had preceded them by half of a generation. Such books were in existence before A.D. 1420 and the earliest date which the Haarlaem Dutchmen set up for the first printing of their fellow-townsman, Lawrence Koster, is 1428. And his pretensions are after all very dubious. Indeed they have been generally condemned as utterly fabulous by bibliographical critics and typographical historians.

We introduce it here to show the color and the (thereby indicated) composition of the INK employed. It was writing-ink. It contained sulphate of iron (copperas), in combination with vegetable astringent matter, and with very little carbon. The vegetable substance, imperfectly united to the mineral ingredient, has (in obedience to the laws of organic matter) been ​ decomposed and "resolved into its original elements." It has disappeared but the iron remains with its yellow stain, an imperishable memorial of that humble, nameless workman, more enduring than that which the plaintive man of Uz desired for if those words had been "graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock forever," that anticipated eternity might have failed of realization by the action of the rain, the frost, the dust, and innumerable imaginable atmospheric vicissitudes, or, (what is worse,) "the wrath of man."—Some Cambyses might have demolished the rock itself, and left no more of the inscription than can now be read of those once carved on the cliffs of Edom, the God-created walls of Petra in the valley of El Ghor .

This pale rusty word-stamping on the fragile and easily combustible paper, has outlasted the inscriptions once visible in gigantic characters on the four sides of the Memphitic pyramids and it is only an incidental result of the intelligence diffused and the learning promoted by the invention thus begun, that we can now read the long-buried records of Nineveh, the epitaphs of the Thebaic kings, and the gravings on the precipitous fronts of the mountains which surround the ruins of Persepolis.

​ All writers upon this subject have strangely overlooked the fact that the art of impressing or printing letters with a metallic stamp or type on parchment, as a substitute for pen-work, is about a thousand years older than the period above specified as the date of the invention of the modern art of printing. The Codex Argenteus , (the oldest translation of the entire Bible into any European language,) is a famous book, in the Library of the University of Upsala in Sweden.

(We give the particulars of its history in our Appendix.)

This "antique" is on purple vellum, (which is parchment made of calf-skin,) and all the letters are silver , (whence the name Codex Argenteus, the "silver book,") manifestly impressed on the page by a metallic stamp or type, each letter evidently being on a separate stock or handle, and applied by manual pressure. We give a specimen of this style of work. It may be called printing, but can not be denominated manuscript, for that is (literally) "hand-writing," which this certainly is not.

In our Appendix may be found still earlier instances of this art as practiced by the ancient Romans on a small scale, in signatures, trade-marks, &c.

​ The Edinburgh Review refers to Pliny and Dioscorides, as furnishing directions for the manufacture of ink. The Edinburgh Reviewer says "receipts,"—not recognizing the broad distinction between a receipt and a recipe. The former of these two words was originally intended to convey the idea that the person who signs the paper has got something: the latter word, or its representative initial (℞) means simply, "take."

Why was galena used as a black pigment, when soot is more black and also more abundant? - History

Hops' Scrimshaw
The home of "Elephant Frienbdly Scrimshaw"

Scrimshaw is an art form that is considered by some to be the only art form that originated in America, since the art of Scrimshaw was first practiced by sailors working on whaling ships out of New England.

The statement above is what I've always thought to be true and accurate, it's what I was told by my Scrimshaw mentors as well as a few collectors of the art that I've dealt with. I have also read similar accounts about the origin of Scrimshaw in a number of books and it's what I have passed on to many beginning Scrimshanders that have sought my guidance in their pursuit of the art.

The word Scrimshaw refers to the art form, one who does Scrimshaw is referred to as a Scrimshander.

Where the word &ldquoScrimshaw&rdquo actually came from, I don&rsquot believe anyone really knows but I think the general consensus is, it was probably derived from a Dutch or English nautical slang expression meaning &ldquoto waste time.&rdquo In other words, anything a seaman made in his off duty hours, when there was nothing else of importance to do on the ship was considered and called &ldquoScrimshaw&rdquo maybe because the ship&rsquos Captain thought it was foolishness to sit and scratch pictures into a whale&rsquos tooth and to do so was a waste of ones time. Many whaling voyages could last 3, 4, 5 years or more and several weeks or even months would pass between Whale sightings. Without something to occupy their time the seamen may well have gone stir crazy in the cramped quarters and poor living conditions aboard these ships.

Today, when people hear the word Scrimshaw, more often than not they think of the images cut or scratched into ivory or other materials to produce a picture, however, there were a number of other things that were produced aboard whaling ships that were also considered Scrimshaw. There were the hinges, latches and other whale bone and ivory fittings that made the &ldquoNantucket Basket&rdquo famous. Seamen would also use the whale&rsquos teeth and bones to carve into umbrella and cane handles, pie crimpers, animal figures, corset busks, various tools and tool handles, etc. While the word Scrimshaw was used to describe items made with whale bone and the ivory teeth, not all of the sailors were artistic enough to carve or do the engraving work but they might be good at working with wood so they made small wooden boxes referred to as &ldquoDitty Boxes&rdquo which were also considered Scrimshaw. The box may have ivory inlays and maybe the sailor would trade some of his work for a piece of Scrimshaw to fit into the top of the box. A wide variety of other useful or decorative items were also considered Scrimshaw, however, it was and still is the ivory whale&rsquos teeth with pictures engraved on them that are the most sought after form of Scrimshaw.

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The ivory teeth from the Sperm Whale were the most popular for Scrimshaw engravings because they were plentiful and small enough to be stowed away in the sailor&rsquos sea chest and since they had no commercial value, the ships Captain would hand them out at no cost to the sailors that wanted them.

In there natural form the ivory whale&rsquos teeth had ridges and other imperfections that had to be removed before the engraving work could be done, the sailors removed the imperfections by first scraping them with a knife, then they would smooth the surface to be Scrimshawed with sharkskin or pumice, the last step was to polish them to a high gloss finish with a cloth.

On the whaling ships the Scrimshaw engravings were done with a pocket knife or if the sailor/whaler was lucky he would get a discarded needle from the ships sail maker. With the knife or needle the sailor would cut and/or scratch a picture into the polished surface. Then Periodically during the engraving process the sailor would rub a pigment into the cuts and scratches, since ink wasn&rsquot readily available they would get soot from the chimney of the ships cooking stove, or they would grind up gun powder with a little whale oil, it was the pigment rubbed into the cuts and scratches that made the picture come to life. A broad range of subjects were depicted on the whale teeth but the most common were portraits of the ship they were sailing on and maybe the ship&rsquos captain, there were also portraits of wives or sweethearts back home, all kinds of sea creatures, mermaids and more.

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Herman Melville was the author of &ldquoMoby Dick,&rdquo a classic novel about a ships Captain and the whaling ship Pequod that went in pursuit of a great white Whale. Melville himself actually set sail on a whaling ship, the Acushnet, which sailed out of New Bedford harbor Massachusetts in the month of January 1841 bound for the Pacific Ocean and the Sperm Whale fishery. During his 18 month long voyage he heard many tales of Whale hunts and those of a malicious Great White Whale that cruised the waters of the South Pacific. Melville heard the true stories about the whaling ship, the Essex that had sailed out of Nantucket in 1819 and was rammed and sank by a furious Sperm Whale on Nov. 20 th 1819. Of the 20 crew members that survived the attack and struggled to exist in 3 open life boats, only 8 survived. Most of the novel &ldquoMoby Dick&rdquo can be considered factual based on Melville&rsquos own experience aboard a whaling ship along with the stories he heard, written accounts of the sinking of the Essex, as well as first hand accounts of the tragedy from the surviving first mate of the Essex.

In the book &ldquoMoby Dick&rdquo Melville actually mentions Scrimshaw as &ldquoLively sketches of Whales and Whaling scenes, graven by the fishermen themselves on Sperm Whale teeth or ladies&rsquo busks wrought out of the Right Whale bone and other Scrimshander articles.&rdquo

A little known fact is, the name of the famous coffee company founded in 1970, the name &ldquoStarbucks,&rdquo was actually taken from the book Moby Dick as the Captain&rsquos first mate was named &ldquoStarbuck.&rdquo

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Although it is generally accepted that the modern form of Scrimshaw is an original American art form that dates back over 200 years, there are accounts of Native American Eskimos/Inuit&rsquos practicing a precursor to the style of Scrimshaw the whalers/sailors were doing as early as 100 to 200 AD. In fact there are accounts of Eskimo artifacts being excavated from traditional hunting camp sites dating back as many as 6,000 years ago. Eskimos used Whale and Walrus ivory and bone for many of their tools and utensils, such as, harpoon fore shafts, fishing net weights, needles, awls, sled runners, ice probes and even bone armor. Centuries of being buried have given many of these artifacts a rich golden brown patina on the outside but with a little work to remove the outer layers reveals an awesome creamy colored working window suitable for Scrimshaw of the finest detail. While it has been said the Eskimos passed this art form on to the New England sailors and whalers, it was the sailors and whalers who refined the art form and led the way to the modern more refined Scrimshaw we see and enjoy today.

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From the sea, sailors and whalers brought us Scrimshaw on Whale&rsquos teeth with images depicting nautical scenes and other things relating to their long voyages, they also inscribed memories and images of loved ones back home. I believe the art of Scrimshaw was being practiced on land about as soon as it was being done on the Whaling ships. Long before the invention and introduction of the modern cartridge firearms, muzzle loading, black powder firearms were used and everyone that carried a rifle or hand gun also carried a powder horn fashioned from a cow&rsquos horn which they used to carry the black powder needed to load and fire their gun. From the French and Indian wars to the Revolutionary War, then on through the Civil war all of the soldiers carried black powder firearms and a powder horn. Like the whalers and their Whale&rsquos teeth, when the soldiers found themselves sitting idle in an encampment between battles they would smooth and polish their powder horns and engrave images into them, however, the scenes they engraved were not of ships and other whaling scenes, they were often battle scenes and maps showing where battles had been fought. There is one powder horn from the war of 1812 that was engraved with a folksy landscape, a 2-story home with 2 chimneys, trees, a rooster and a fenced yard, as well as a 3-masted schooner and other fancy embellishments. With the home and the ship, this certainly had to be the horn of an x-whaler/sailor that decided it was better to fight in a war rather than to go out to sea on another 3 to 5 year voyage hunting Whales. I once heard a story about how a seafaring man could leave the hard life of whale hunting behind, settle down with a wife and raise a family, it went something like this.

"If you want to get away from the sea and not be tempted to go out on another 3 to 5 year voyage, you collect your pay for the last 5 year voyage, $2 a month, throw an anchor up over your shoulder and you walk inland until someone asks &ldquowhat&rsquos that&rdquo and that&rsquos where yo u drop the anchor and build yourself a chicken farm."

As our Great Country grew further westward, Mountain Men of the &ldquoFur Trade Era&rdquo and pioneers carried with them black powder firearms and powder horns. Mountain men also engraved their powder horns but more often than not they engraved maps on their horns showing the route to an easily traveled mountain pass, or directions to the best trapping spots, or maybe the location of friendly Indian villages where he could visit, rest a spell and maybe even spend the winter. In addition to the maps engraved in the horns, many of the powder horns carried by the Soldiers as well as the horns of the Mountain Men had very intricate embellishments on them, today this type of horn is referred to as a &ldquoMap Horn.&rdquo

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Towards the end of the 1800&rsquos natural gas and other petroleum based products were discovered and the need for whale oil declined rapidly. Although not totally gone, those left in the whaling industry made significant changes, becoming more efficient, building larger, faster, steam powered ships with better processing equipment and greater storage capacities. Harpoons fired from shipboard cannons were more accurate at much greater distances than those thrown by hand from small rowboats.

With significantly smaller whaling fleets and other changes which allowed the ships to operate more efficiently with smaller crews that meant there were fewer whalers/sailors to do Scrimshaw work. By that time the whale&rsquos teeth and bones which in earlier years were tossed aside, now became part of the seas bounty the whaling ships were after because they now had a commercial value. Also, around the late 1860s and early 1870s the first truly successful center-fire cartridges and rifles were introduced which meant it was no longer necessary to carry a powder horn with which to load your gun. These two events occurring almost simultaneously resulted in Scrimshaw nearly becoming a lost art.

History of Makeup Independent Study

Began reading Gabriela Hernandez's book Classic Beauty: The History of Makeup, which is a visually fascinating and informative book.

The first section was on the origins of cosmetics, and Hernandez explains that makeup has been used since man's beginnings. Archaic makeup was most likely used to make the wearer fearsome, to ward off evil and/or predators, most likely in the form of face-paint or a mask. Women stayed within the settlements, therefore the men were probably the ones covering themselves in makeup.
Concoctions of colored pigments and grease have been dated to 33,000 B.C., the first being mixtures of soot and animal fat. The grease makeup could be used as a skin protectant from the elements, but cave paintings also depict it being used for decorative purposes in ritual.

Pigments were discovered in the Lascaux caves of France dating back to 15,000 B.C. Among those found was manganese dioxide, a black dense color later used by the Egyptians for cosmetic purposes. (Hernandez, 12)

Yellow, black, and red were the most common colors found in archeological sites. Red was found in burial sites on bodies, also used to decorate bone, wood, and leather.

The Tyrolean man or Ötzi the Iceman, who was 5300 years old when discovered in 1991, had been adorned with tattoos and acupuncture-made scarification. During prehistoric times ornamentation and tools were coupled, as grooming aids artifacts like tweezers and razors were found along with mirrors and application tools.

The empires of Egypt reigned from 2659 B.C. to 1070 B.C., and through Papyrus writings and wall decorations they thoroughly documented their medical and cosmetic toiletries. Egyptians, also had tools for grooming. Their spiritual belief were in tune with cleanliness, and they had developed techniques for brushing their teeth, facial exfoliates, and facial masks, and insect repellant.

The toilette box of wealthy Egyptian woman often contained pumice stones, eye paint applicators, mineral powder, palettes to mix colors, and containers of colored powder. These included the green mineral malachite, red ochre used as a rouge and lip colorant, and black powder eyeliner known as kohl made from soot, galena, and other ingredients. (Hernandez, 16)

Frankincense and myrrh have anti-inflammatory properties, and mixed with oils, resin, and wax they were ancient anti-wrinkle concoctions.

Mesopotamians and Assyrians also used salves and oils for skin protectant, had shaving practices, used incense and perfumes, created hair dye from leek and cassia, and curled their beards and hair with wax. Like the Egyptians, cosmetic containers were found in the fertile crescent.

Around 2500 B.C., the Babylonians used eye, cheek, and lip cosmetics. They filled shells with purple, red, yellow, blue, green, and black colored pigments. The Pigments were lightened with the addition of burnt animal bone. Green eye paint was valued not only for it's decorative purposes, but also as a sun protectant and as a medicinal ointment for eye infections. (Hernandez, 19)

The Greeks were much more simplistic, their cosmetic toiletries included perfume, hair oil for curling, and the occasional use of rouge for the lips and cheeks. They groomed like other ancient civilizations, and used plaster or tweezers to remove hair from the body. However, rows of dots and lines appear on the faces of women in remaining wall paintings, and there are depictions of Greek women holding mirrors, therefore there are records of the importance of personal appearance.

Similar to what I posted about from reading a journal about Roman cosmetics, Hernandez writes that roman women wore much more makeup than the Greeks. They darkened their eyebrows, used eyeliner, shades of pink or red lip rogue, and used a face whitener of chalk and vinegar. Like the Egyptian cosmetics pots, and the shells of cosmetics from the Mesopotamians, the Romans also had containers for their toiletries but in the form of glass bottles and vials.

Wealthy Roman women enlisted cosmetic artists and hair stylists to help with their beauty regimen. The cosmetic artist was called the cosmatae , and the mistress of the toilette, the ornatrix . (Hernandez, 22)

During the middle ages, the fall of education, literacy, and culture gave way to the rise of Christianity. Scriptures that were interpreted condemned vanity and the use of cosmetics. Hair grooming and shaving declined, women covered their hair, and bathing became a rarity. Herbal concoctions and mixtures were maintained by missionaries, because they did not induce vanity.

The Nordic tribes of Saxons, Teutons, and Norse Vikings left record of their practices in their burial sites. Left behind were combs, jewerly, oils and pomades, and on the mummies of Vikings were remnants of tattoos. They also traded cosmetics to the British aisles by using old Roman routes.

Contact with the Arabic world during the Crusades also maintained the use of cosmetics in Europe. Perfumes, oils, spices, hair bleachers like lye, and powders made of flour all were used in Medieval court, customs that all came from the Middle-East.

Although medieval life centered around wars and politics, there was still a taste for luxury goods and fineries within royal households. Both men and women of the royal court kept dedicated barbers and cosmeticians at hand. (Hernandez, 27)

By the 15th and 16th century, the feminine beauty ideal was that of a woman with an oval face, small features, and a very high forehead. Courtesans wore platform shoes called pianelles , wore ornate wigs, and used heavy makeup to adorn their features. Pale skin and red lips were once again the desirable complexion of ladies, and because of continued trade a variety of dyes, soaps, paints, and toiletry mirrors were available to European women. The use of herbs and flowers in perfumes and scented waters were continually used as well.

Perfumed waters and other scented fluids were commonly used to clean and freshen up the home. Cleaning herbs contained antibacterial properties, which protected against infectious diseases. Popular perfumes were made from violet flowers that were pressed and mixed with putrefied lard. (Hernandez, 28)

For my next post, I'll begin at the 16th century and carry on.

Hernandez, Gabriela. Classic Beauty, The History Of Makeup. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing Ltd, 2013. Print.

Sculpture of the Old Kingdom

Egyptian artisans during the Old Kingdom perfected the art of sculpting and carving intricate relief decoration out of stone.

Learning Objectives

Discuss the role of ka statues and funerary art in the Old Kingdom of Ancient Egypt

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • Egyptian sculpture took the form of statues (which were often life-sized) and reliefs (which were carved into blocks of stone). Many sculptures were painted using natural minerals.
  • Sculptures from the Old Kingdom are characteristically more natural in style than their predecessors.
  • Sculptures, such as the ka statues , often served as funerary art , accompanying the deceased in burial tombs with the intention of preserving life after death.
  • Reserve heads, found in the tombs of commoners, might have served as an equivalent of the ka statue, but the exact purpose remains a matter of debate. The Great Sphinx , located among the Pyramids of Giza, is the largest monolith statue in the world.

Key Terms

  • Ka statue:A type of ancient Egyptian statue intended to provide a resting place for the ka, or spirit, of the person after death. The ancient Egyptians believed the ka (or life-force), along with the physical body, name, ba (personality or soul), and šwt (shadow) made up the five aspects of a person.
  • funerary art:Any work of art forming, or placed in, a repository for the remains of the dead (such as a tomb).
  • ochre:An earth pigment containing silica, aluminum, and ferric oxide.
  • monolith:A large single block of stone used in architecture and sculpture.

Egyptian sculptors created the first life-sized statues and fine reliefs in stone, copper, and wood. They perfected the art of carving intricate relief decoration and produced detailed images of animals, plants, and even landscapes, recording the essential elements of their world for eternity in scenes painted and carved on the walls of temples and tombs. Kings used reliefs to record victories in battle, royal decrees, and religious scenes, and sculptures of kings, goddesses, and gods were common as well. Sculptures from the Old Kingdom are characteristically more natural in style than their predecessors. Toward the end of the Old Kingdom, images of people shifted toward formalized nude figures with long bodies and large eyes.

Egyptian sculpture of the Old Kingdom: This sculpture was created in the Fourth Dynasty, and represents the goddess Hathor, King Menkaure, and the goddess Bat.

The Great Sphinx, located among the Pyramids of Giza, is the largest monolith statue in the world, standing 241 feet long, 63 feet wide, and 66.34 feet high. Carved out of limestone , it represents a mythical creature known as a sphinx, with a lion’s body and a human head. It is commonly believed that the head of the Great Sphinx is that of the Fourth Dynasty (2680-2565 BCE) pharaoh Khafre, whose pyramid stands directly behind the giant sculpture.

The Great Sphinx of Giza: The Great Sphinx, located among the Pyramids of Giza, is the largest monolith statue in the world.

While most sculptures were made of stone, wood was sometimes used as a cheap and easily carved substitute. Paints were obtained from minerals such as iron ores (red and yellow ochres), copper ores (blue and green), soot or charcoal (black), and limestone (white). Paints could be mixed with gum arabic as a binder and pressed into cakes, which could be moistened with water when needed.

By the Fourth Dynasty, the idea of the ka statue was firmly established. Typically made of wood or stone, these statues were placed in tombs as a resting place for the ka, or spirit, of the person after death. Other sculptural works served as funerary art, accompanying the deceased in burial tombs with the intention of preserving life after death. Strict conventions that changed very little over the course of Egyptian history were intended to convey the timeless and non-aging quality of the figure’s ka.

Ka statue of Horawibra

The Fourth Dynasty also witnessed the production of so-called “reserve heads,” plain and hairless naturalistic busts found primarily in non-royal tombs. Each head bears a striking individuality despite many common features, leading to the argument that they were portraits. Some scholars believe that they were intended as the commoners’ equivalent of ka statues, although the exact purpose remains a matter of debate.

Reserve heads (c. 26th century BCE): These individualized busts might have been the commoners’ equivalent of the ka statue, but the exact purpose remains unknown.

Very strict conventions governed the crafting of deity figures, and these rules were followed so strictly that over three thousand years, the appearance of statues changed very little. For example, the sky god (Horus) was to be represented with a falcon’s head, while the god of funeral rites (Anubis) was to be always shown with a jackal’s head.

In addition to funerary art, Egyptians surrounded themselves with objects to enhance their lives in this world, producing cosmetic vessels and finely carved and inlaid furniture. Over time, Egyptian artists adopted a limited repertoire of standard types and established a formal artistic canon that would define Egyptian art for more than 3,000 years while remaining flexible enough to allow for subtle variation and innovation.

Why was galena used as a black pigment, when soot is more black and also more abundant? - History


Enter subhead content here

For ancient Egyptians, appearance was an important issue. Appearance indicated a persons status, role in a society or political significance. Egyptian hairstyles and our hairstyles today have many things in common. Like modern hairstyles Egyptian hairstyles varied with age, gender and social status.

Children had unique hairstyles in ancient Egypt. Their hair was shaved off or cut short except for a long lock of hair left on the side of the head, the so-called side-lock of youth. This s-shaped lock was depicted by the hieroglyphic symbol of a child or youth. Both girls and boys wore this style until the onset of puberty. Young boys often shaved their heads, while young girls wore their hair in plaits or sometimes did up their hair in a ponytail style, hanging down the center of the back. Young girl dancers used to wear long thick braided ponytails. The edge of the tail was either naturally curled or was enhanced to do so. If the ponytail was not curled at the end, it was weighted down by adornments or metal discs.

Egyptian men typically wore their hair short, leaving their ears visible. Men often kept these hairstyles until their hair began to thin with advancing age. Another hairstyle for men was distinctive short curls covering the ears shaping a bend from temple to nape. It is doubtful that this hairstyle was natural. It was more likely a result of a process of hair curling that was done occasionally.

Women's hairstyles were more unique than those of men. Women generally preferred a smooth, close coiffure, a natural wave and long curl. Women in the Old Kingdom preferred to have short cuts or chin length bobs. However, women in the New Kingdom wore their hair long or touted a wig. Women tied and decorated their hair with flowers and linen ribbons. A stylized lotus blossom was the preferred adornment for the head. This developed into using coronets and diadems. Diadems made of gold, turquoise, garnet, and malachite beads were discovered on an ancient Egyptian body dating to 3200 BC. Poorer people used more simple and inexpensive ornaments of petals and berries to hold their hair at the back. Children decorated their hair with amulets of small fish, presumably to protect from the dangers of the Nile. Children sometimes used hair-rings or clasps. Egyptians wore headbands around their heads or held their hair in place with ivory and metal hairpins. Beads might be used to attach wigs or hair extensions in place.

Egyptians threaded gold tubes on each tress, or strung inlaid gold rosettes between vertical ribs of small beads to form full head covers. The also used combs, tweezers, shavers and hair curlers. Combs were either single or double sided combs and made from wood or bone. Some of them were very finely made with a long grip. Combs were found from early tomb goods, even from predynastic times. Egyptians shaved with a stone blade at first, later with a copper, and during the Middle Kingdom with a bronze razor.

Slaves and servants were not able to dress the same as Egyptian nobility. The way that they adorned their hair was quite different. Commonly, they tied their hair at the back of the head into a kind of loop. Another type of hairstyle was to tie it in eight or nine long plaits at the back of the head and to dangled them together at one side of the neck and face.

In ancient Egypt, men and women used to shave their heads bald replacing their natural hair with wigs. Egyptian women did not walk around showing their bald heads, they always wore the wigs. Head shaving had a number of benefits. First, removing their hair made it much more comfortable in the hot Egyptian climate. Second, it was easy to maintain a high degree of cleanliness avoiding danger of lice infestation. In addition, people wore wigs when their natural hair was gone due to old age. However, even though the Egyptians shaved their heads, they did not think the bald look was preferable to having hair.

Priests were required to keep their entire bodies cleanly shaved. They shaved every third day because they needed to avoid the danger of lice or any other uncleanness to conduct rituals. This is the reason why priests are illustrated bald-headed with no eyebrows or lashes.

There is evidence of influence from other cultures on Egyptian hairstyles. One example is the cultural union of the Roman Empire and the Egyptian empire. There is evidence of a female mummy wearing a typically Roman hairstyle yet the iconography on her death mask was plainly Egyptian. At Tell el-Daba in Egypt, there was a statue portrayed wearing a mushroom hairstyle that was typical of Asiatic males. There is a statue of young woman in the Ptolemaic periods exhibiting a typical Nubian hairstyle consisting of five small clumps of hair.

Wigs were very popular and worn by men, women and children. They were adorned both inside and outside of the house. Egyptians put on a new wig each day and wigs were greatly varied in styles. The primary function of the wig was as a headdress for special occasions, such as ceremonies and banquets.

Wigs were curled or sometimes made with a succession of plaits. Only queens or noble ladies could wear wigs of long hair separated into three parts, the so-called goddress. However, they were worn by commoners in later times. During the Old and Middle Kingdom, there were basically two kinds of wig styles wigs made of short or long hair. The former was made of small curls arranged in horizontal lines lapping over each other resembling roof tiles. The forehead was partially visible and the ears and back of the neck were fully covered. Those small curls were either triangular or square. The hair could be cut straight across the forehead or cut rounded.

On the contrary, the hair from a long-haired wig hung down heavily from the top of the head to the shoulders forming a frame for the face. The hair was slightly waved and occasionally tresses were twisted into spirals. In the New Kingdom, people preferred wigs with several long tassel-ended tails, while shorter and simpler wigs became popular in the Amarna period.

Wigs were very expensive. People who could not afford to buy wigs had to use the cheaper hair extensions. Hair extensions were often preferred because they could be tied up in the back. Egyptians considered thicker hair as ideal, so hair extensions were also attached to the wigs to enhance ones appearance.

Wigs were meticulously cared for using emollients and oils made from vegetables or animal fats. Those wigs that were properly cared for lasted longer than those without proper care. Although Egyptians preferred to wear wigs and took care of them, they also did take care of their natural hair. Washing their hair regularly was a routine for Egyptians. However, it is not known how frequently Egyptians washed their hair. Wigs were scented with petals or piece of wood chips such as cinnamon. When wigs were not used, they were kept in special boxes on a stand or in special chests. When it was needed, it could be worn without tiresome combing. Wig boxes were found in tombs and the remnants of ancient wig factories have been located. Since it is believed that wigs were also needed for the afterlife, the dead were buried in the tombs with their wigs.

Wigs were usually made from human hair, sheep's wool or vegetable fibers. The more it looked like real hair, the more expensive it was and the more it was sought after. Wigs of high quality were made only from human hair, while wigs for the middle class were made with a mix of human hair and vegetable fibers. The cheapest wigs were made fully from vegetable fibers. Both wig making specialists and barbers made the wigs and wig making was considered to be a respectable profession. It was one of the jobs available to women. People cut or shaved their hair by themselves or went to the barbers. A barbershop scene is depicted in the tomb of Userhet at Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, where young men are forming a waiting line, sitting on the folding chairs and tripods while the barber is working.

Egyptians used a material called henna (used for nails and lips, too) to dye their hair red. Scientific studies show that people used henna to conceal their gray hair from as early as 3400 BC. Henna is still used today. There is a body of evidence from paintings that depict the existence of people with red hair, such as the 18th Dynasty Hunutmehet. She had distinctive red hair mentioned by Grafton Smith.

Like today, ancient Egyptians were also facing the same problem of hair loss, and they wanted to maintain their youthful appearance as long as possible. There were many kinds of suggested remedies targeting primarily men. In 1150 BC, Egyptian men applied fats from ibex, lions, crocodiles, serpents, geese, and hippopotami to their scalps. The fat of cats and goats was also recommended. Chopped lettuce patches were used to smear the bald spots to encourage hair growth.

Ancient Egyptians also made use of something similar to modern aromatherapy. Fir oil, rosemary oil, (sweet) almond oil and castor oil were often used to stimulate hair growth. The seeds of fenugreek, that plant herbalists and pharmacologists still use today, was another remedy.

Egyptian Make Up and Cosmetics
The Ancient Egyptians, both men and women, wore distinct eye make up, rouge and perfumed oils that softened the skin and prevented burning in the sun and damage from the sandy winds. Not only did the men and women of Egypt wear make up but also the statues of their gods and goddesses were adorned with all these different types of cosmetics. The higher the status of the person the more clothes and make-up they wore.

Egyptian Eye Make Up
The Ancient Egyptian eye make up was extremely elaborate and created the almond eye look which has become synonymous with the Ancient Egyptians. Eye make up had a long history in Ancient Egypt and both men and women were using eye make as early as 4000BC. The eye make they used concentrated in providing color to their eye lashes, eye lids and eye brows. The favorite eye make up colors were black and green. The powders used to create the eye make up were ground on a palette then mixed with water to form a paste.

Egyptian Black Eye Make Up - Kohl
The black coloring of Ancient Egyptian eye make up, favored in the Period of the New Kingdom, was achieved by the use of Kohl.

The eye make up Kohl was obtained from galena

Galena is a blue-grey natural mineral form of lead sulfide

Galena deposits were found and mined in the eastern dessert at Gebel el-Zeit

One of the earliest uses of galena was as kohl

Kohl is a mixture of soot and galena. The Egyptian eye make kohl was stored in richly decorated containers called kohl pots.

Egyptian Green Eye Make Up
The green coloring of Ancient Egyptian eye make up was achieved by the use green pigment called malachite.

Malachite is a copper ore, a carbonate mineral, copper carbonate hydroxide, which has a vibrant green color

Malachite was used as a mineral pigment in green paints dating from antiquity

Malachite was imported from the Sinai Desert

The malchite stone was crushed and then mixed as the green eye make up

Egyptian Face Make Up - Rouge
Ancient Egyptians used a type of rouge to stain their lips and cheeks. The red coloring used by Ancient Egyptian in make up was achieved by the use of ochre.

Red ochre is a pigment made from naturally tinted clay - hydrated iron oxide

Ochre has been used since prehistoric times

To make the ochre used for make up the clay was first mined from the ground, washed to separate sand from ochre and then dried in the sun and sometimes burned to enhance the natural color

Egyptian Make Up - Nail Polish and Hair Color
Ancient Egyptians used a form of henna to paint their nails and color their hair. The color and condition of nails have long been an indication of social status. The coloring used by Ancient Egyptian in this type make up was achieved by the use of henna.

Henna is a dye obtained from the leaves and shoots of the henna shrub which is native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa

Dried, ground, sifted henna leaves are easily worked into a paste

To create the make up and cosmetics using henna the leaves or shoots were ground on a palette then mixed with water to form a paste.

Henna was also used as a healing plant and for cleansing and cooling the skin

The earliest historical documentation of henna are the traces found upon the nails of mummified pharaohs

Reasons for using Ancient Egyptian Eye Make Up
The Ancient Egyptian eye make up had several purposes, uses and reasons for their application:

Cosmetic reasons - Ancient Egyptian Eye make up was used to define the eye for purely cosmetic reasons

Ancient Egyptian Physicians prescribed the use of kohl against eye diseases

Galena, which made the kohl, had disinfectant qualities

Kohl shielded the eye against the sun

Kohl also acted as a deterrent to flies!

Religious & Magical reasons - The green eye make up used by the Ancient Egyptians Eye was believed to induce or evoke the the eye of Horus, the God of the Sky & Sun

Traditional reasons - Egyptian mothers would apply kohl to the eyes of infants soon after they were born believing its application would strengthen the child's eyes and preventing the child from being cursed by an "evil eye"

Egyptian Make Up - Perfumes and Oils
The Ancient Egyptians used numerous perfumes obtained from the fragrances derived from flowers, plants, seeds. They were blended into a cream made from animal fats and oils such as the expensive oil called balanos or the more common castor oil. The Ancient Egyptians also used myrrh, frankincense, cardamom and cinnamon to mix their perfumes.

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