Ochre

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Ochre
 
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Ochre- pigment Hellocker- Pigment.JPG
Ochre- pigment

Ochre (British English) ( /ˈkər/ OH-kər; from Ancient Greek : ὤχρα, from ὠχρός, ōkhrós, pale) or ocher (American English) [1] is a natural clay earth pigment which is a mixture of ferric oxide and varying amounts of clay and sand. [2] It ranges in colour from yellow to deep orange or brown. It is also the name of the colours produced by this pigment, especially a light brownish-yellow. [3] [4] A variant of ochre containing a large amount of hematite, or dehydrated iron oxide, has a reddish tint known as "red ochre" (or, in some dialects, ruddle).

British English is the standard dialect of English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland and Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".

American English set of dialects of the English language spoken in the US

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States.

Contents

The word ochre also describes clays colored with iron oxide, derived during the extraction of tin and copper. [5]

Tin Chemical element with atomic number 50

Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn (from Latin: stannum) and atomic number 50. It is a post-transition metal in group 14 of the periodic table of elements. It is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, which contains stannic oxide, SnO2. Tin shows a chemical similarity to both of its neighbors in group 14, germanium and lead, and has two main oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4. Tin is the 49th most abundant element and has, with 10 stable isotopes, the largest number of stable isotopes in the periodic table, thanks to its magic number of protons. It has two main allotropes: at room temperature, the stable allotrope is β-tin, a silvery-white, malleable metal, but at low temperatures it transforms into the less dense grey α-tin, which has the diamond cubic structure. Metallic tin does not easily oxidize in air.

Copper Chemical element with atomic number 29

Copper is a chemical element with symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish-orange color. Copper is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material, and as a constituent of various metal alloys, such as sterling silver used in jewelry, cupronickel used to make marine hardware and coins, and constantan used in strain gauges and thermocouples for temperature measurement.

Earth pigments

Ochre is a family of earth pigments, which includes yellow ochre, red ochre, purple ochre, sienna, and umber. The major ingredient of all the ochres is iron(III) oxide-hydroxide, known as limonite, which gives them a yellow colour.

Iron(III) oxide-hydroxide chemical compound

Iron(III) oxide-hydroxide or ferric oxyhydroxide is the chemical compound of iron, oxygen, and hydrogen with formula FeO(OH).

Limonite Oxide mineral

Limonite is an iron ore consisting of a mixture of hydrated iron(III) oxide-hydroxides in varying composition. The generic formula is frequently written as FeO(OH)·nH2O, although this is not entirely accurate as the ratio of oxide to hydroxide can vary quite widely. Limonite is one of the three principal iron ores, the others being hematite and magnetite, and has been mined for the production of iron since at least 2500 BCE.

Yellow ochre (Goldochre)- pigment Goldocker- Pigment.JPG
Yellow ochre (Goldochre)- pigment

In chemistry, a hydrate is a substance that contains water or its constituent elements. The chemical state of the water varies widely between different classes of hydrates, some of which were so labeled before their chemical structure was understood.

Hematite oxide mineral

Hematite, also spelled as haematite, is the mineral form of iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3), one of several iron oxides. It is the oldest known iron oxide mineral that has ever formed on Earth, and is widespread in rocks and soils. Hematite crystallizes in the rhombohedral lattice system, and it has the same crystal structure as ilmenite and corundum. Hematite and ilmenite form a complete solid solution at temperatures above 950 °C (1,740 °F).

A substance is anhydrous if it contains no water. Many processes in chemistry can be impeded by the presence of water, therefore, it is important that water-free reagents and techniques are used. In practice, however, it is very difficult to achieve perfect dryness; anhydrous compounds gradually absorb water from the atmosphere so they must be stored carefully.

When natural sienna and umber pigments are heated, they are dehydrated and some of the limonite is transformed into hematite, giving them more reddish colours, called burnt sienna and burnt umber. Ochres are non-toxic and can be used to make an oil paint that dries quickly and covers surfaces thoroughly. Modern ochre pigments often are made using synthetic iron oxide. Pigments which use natural ochre pigments indicate it with the name PY-43 (Pigment yellow 43) on the label, following the Colour Index International system.

A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; synthetic toxicants created by artificial processes are thus excluded. The term was first used by organic chemist Ludwig Brieger (1849–1919), derived from the word toxic.

Colour Index International is a reference database jointly maintained by the Society of Dyers and Colourists and the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists. It currently contains over 27,000 individual products listed under 13,000 Colour Index Generic Names. It was first printed in 1925 but is now published solely on the World-Wide Web. The index serves as a common reference database of manufactured colour products and is used by manufacturers and consumers, such as artists and decorators.

Roussillon, Vaucluse Commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Roussillon is a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in Southeastern France.

Provence Historical province in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Provence is a geographical region and historical province of southeastern France, which extends from the left bank of the lower Rhône River to the west to the Italian border to the east, and is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It largely corresponds with the modern administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, and includes the départements of Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and parts of Alpes-Maritimes and Vaucluse. The largest city of the region is Marseille.

Historical use in art and culture

Prehistory and early history

The use of ochre is particularly intensive: it is not unusual to find a layer of the cave floor impregnated with a purplish red to a depth of eight inches. The size of these ochre deposits raises a problem not yet solved. The colouring is so intense that practically all the loose ground seems to consist of ochre. One can imagine that the Aurignacians regularly painted their bodies red, dyed their animal skins, coated their weapons, and sprinkled the ground of their dwellings, and that a paste of ochre was used for decorative purposes in every phase of their domestic life. We must assume no less, if we are to account for the veritable mines of ochre on which some of them lived...

Leroi-Gourhan, A. 1968. The Art of Prehistoric Man in Western Europe. London: Thames & Hudson, p. 40.

Iron oxide is one of the most common minerals found on earth, and there is much evidence that yellow and red ochre pigment was used in prehistoric and ancient times by many different civilizations on different continents. Pieces of ochre engraved with abstract designs have been found at the site of the Blombos Cave in South Africa, dated to around 75,000 years ago. [7]

The practice of ochre painting was prevalent in ancient Australia. Pleistocene burials with red ochre date as early as 40,000 BP and ochre played a role in expressing symbolic ideologies of the earliest arrivals to the continent. [8]

In Wales, the paleolithic burial called the Red Lady of Paviland from its coating of red ochre has been dated to around 33,000 years before present. Paintings of animals made with red and yellow ochre pigments have been found in paleolithic sites at Pech Merle in France (ca. 25,000 years old), and the cave of Altamira in Spain (ca. 16,500–15,000 BC). The cave of Lascaux has an image of a horse coloured with yellow ochre estimated to be 17,300 years old.

According to some scholars, Neolithic burials used red ochre pigments symbolically, either to represent a return to the earth or possibly as a form of ritual rebirth, in which the colour symbolises blood and the Great Goddess. [9]

In Ancient Egypt, yellow was associated with gold, which was considered to be eternal and indestructible. The skin and bones of the gods were believed to be made of gold. The Egyptians used yellow ochre extensively in tomb painting, though occasionally they used orpiment, which made a brilliant colour, but was highly toxic, since it was made with arsenic. In tomb paintings, men were always shown with brown faces, women with yellow ochre or gold faces. [10]

Red ochre in Ancient Egypt was used as a rouge, or lip gloss for women. [11] Ochre-coloured lines were also discovered on the Unfinished Obelisk at the northern region of the Aswan Stone Quarry, marking work sites. Ochre clays were also used medicinally in Ancient Egypt: such use is described in the Ebers Papyrus from Egypt, dating to about 1550 BC.

Ochre was the most commonly used pigment for painting walls in the ancient Mediterranean world. In Ancient Greece, red ochre was called μίλτος, míltos (hence Miltiades, red-haired or ruddy). In Athens when Assembly was called, a contingent of public slaves would sweep the open space of the Agora with ropes dipped in miltos: those citizens that loitered there instead of moving to the Assembly area would risk having their clothes stained with the paint. This prevented them from wearing these clothes in public again, as failure to attend the Assembly incurred a fine. It was also known as "raddle", "reddle" or "ruddle" [12] and was used to mark sheep and can also be used as a waxy waterproof coating on structures. The reddle was sold as a ready-made mixture to farmers and herders by travelling workers called reddlemen. [13] A reddleman named Diggory Venn was prominently described in Thomas Hardy's 1878 novel entitled The Return of the Native .

In classical antiquity, the finest red ochre came from a Greek colony on the Black Sea where the modern city of Sinop in Turkey is located. It was carefully regulated, expensive and marked by a special seal, and this colour was called sealed Sinope. Later the Latin and Italian name sinopia was given to wide range of dark red ochre pigments. [14] The Romans used yellow ochre in their paintings to represent gold and skin tones, and as a background colour. It is found frequently in the murals of Pompeii.

The Ancient Picts were said to paint themselves "Iron Red" according to the Gothic historian Jordanes. Frequent references in Irish myth to "red men" (Gaelic: Fer Dearg) make it likely that such a practice was common to the Celts of the British Isles, bog iron being particularly abundant in the midlands of Ireland.

Australia

Multicolored ochre rocks used in Aboriginal ceremony and artwork. Ochre Pits, Namatjira Drive, Northern Territory OchrePits.JPG
Multicolored ochre rocks used in Aboriginal ceremony and artwork. Ochre Pits, Namatjira Drive, Northern Territory

Ochre has been used for millennia by Aboriginal Australians for body decoration, sun protection, [15] mortuary practices, cave painting, bark painting and other artwork, and the preservation of animal skins, among other uses. At Lake Mungo, in Western New South Wales, burial sites have been excavated and burial materials, including ochre-painted bones, have been dated to the arrival of people in Australia; [16] "Mungo Man" (LM3) was buried sprinkled with red ochre at dates confidently estimated as at least 30,000 years B.P. and possibly as old as 60,000 years old. [17] Ochre pigments are plentiful across Australia, especially the Western Desert, Kimberley and Arnhem Land regions, and occur in many archaeological sites. [18] The National Museum of Australia has a large collection of samples of ochre from many sites across Australia. [19]

New Zealand

The Māori people of New Zealand were found to be making extensive use of mineral ochre mixed with fish oil. [20] Ochre was the predominant colouring agent used by Maori, and was used to paint their large waka taua (war canoe). Ochre prevented the drying out of the wood in canoes and the carvings of meeting houses; later missionaries estimated that it would last for 30 years. It was also roughly smeared over the face, especially by women, to keep off insects. Solid chunks of ochre were ground on a flat but rough surfaced rock to produce the powder.

North America

In Newfoundland [21] its use is most often associated with the Beothuk, whose use of red ochre led them to be referred to as "Red Indians" by the first Europeans to Newfoundland. [22] It was also used by the Maritime Archaic as evidenced by its discovery in the graves of over 100 individuals during an archaeological excavation at Port au Choix. Its use was widespread at times in the Eastern Woodlands cultural area of Canada and the US; the Red Ocher people complex refers to a specific archaeological period in the Woodlands ca. 1000-400 BC. California Native Americans such as the Tongva and Chumash were also known to use red ochre as body paint. [23]

In Newfoundland, red ochre was the pigment of choice for use in vernacular outbuildings and work buildings associated with the cod fishery. Deposits of ochre are found throughout Newfoundland, notably near Fortune Harbour and at Ochre Pit Cove. While earliest settlers may have used locally collected ochre, people were later able to purchase pre-ground ochre through local merchants, largely imported from England.

The dry ingredient, ochre, was mixed with some type of liquid raw material to create a rough paint. The liquid material was usually seal oil or cod liver oil in Newfoundland and Labrador, while Scandinavian recipes sometimes called for linseed oil. Red ochre paint was sometimes prepared months in advance and allowed to sit, and the smell of ochre paint being prepared is still remembered by many[ who? ] today.[ when? ]

Variations in local recipes, shades of ore, and type of oil used resulted in regional variations in colour. Because of this, it is difficult to pinpoint an exact shade or hue of red that would be considered the traditional "fishing stage red". Oral tradition [ according to whom? ] in the Bonavista Bay area maintains that seal oil mixed with the ochre gave the sails a purer red colour, while cod liver oil would give a "foxy" colour, browner in hue.

Africa

Himba woman covered with a traditional ochre pigment Namibie Himba 0717a.jpg
Himba woman covered with a traditional ochre pigment

Red ochre has been used as a colouring agent in Africa for over 200,000 years. [24] Women of the Himba ethnic group in Namibia use a mix of ochre and animal fat for body decoration, to achieve a reddish skin colour. The ochre mixture is also applied to their hair after braiding. [25] Men and women of the Maasai people in Kenya and Tanzania have also used ochre in the same way.

Renaissance

During the Renaissance, yellow and red ochre pigments were widely used in painting panels and frescoes. The colours vary greatly from region to region, depending upon whether the local clay was richer in yellowish limonite or reddish hematite. The red earth from Pozzuoli near Naples was a salmon pink, while the pigment from Tuscany contained manganese, making it a darker reddish brown called terra di siena, or sienna earth. [26]

The 15th-century painter Cennino Cennini described the uses of ochre pigments in his famous treatise on painting.

This pigment is found in the earth of mountains, where particular seams like sulphur are found. And there, where these seams are, sinopia, green earth and other types of pigment are found...And the abovementioned pigments running through this landscape looked as a scar on the face of a man or of a woman looks...I went in behind with my little knife, prospecting at the scar of this pigment; and in this way, I promise you, I never sampled a more lovely and perfect ochre pigment...And know that this ochre is a common pigment, particularly when working in fresco; that with other mixtures that, as i will explain to you, it is used for flesh colours, for drapery, for coloured mountains and buildings and hair and in general for many things. [27]

In early modern Malta, red ochre paint was commonly used on public buildings. [28]

Modern history

The industrial process for making ochre pigment was developed by the French scientist Jean-Étienne Astier in the 1780s. He was from Roussillon in the Vaucluse department of Provence, and he was fascinated by the cliffs of red and yellow clay in the region. He invented a process to make the pigment on a large scale. First the clay was extracted from open pits or mines. The raw clay contained about 80 to 90 percent sand and 10 to 20 percent ochre. Then he washed the clay to separate the grains of sand from the particles of ochre. The remaining mixture was then decanted in large basins, to further separate the ochre from the sand. The water was then drained, and the ochre was dried, cut into bricks, crushed, sifted, and then classified by colour and quality. The best quality was reserved for artists' pigments. [6]

In Britain, ochre was mined at Brixham England. It became an important product for the British fishing industry, where it was combined with oil and used to coat sails to protect them from seawater, giving them a reddish colour. The ochre was boiled in great caldrons, together with tar, tallow and oak bark, the last ingredient giving the name of barking yards to the places where the hot mixture was painted on to the sails, which were then hung up to dry. In 1894, a theft case provided insights into the use of the pigment as a food adulterant in sausage roll production whereby the accused apprentice was taught to soak brown bread in red ochre, salt, and pepper to give the appearance of beef sausage for the filling. [29]

As noted above, the industrial process for making ochre pigment was developed by the French scientist Jean-Étienne Astier in the 1780s, using the ochre mines Roussillon in the Vaucluse department of Provence, in France. Thanks to the process invented by Astier and refined by his successors, ochre pigments from Roussillon were exported across Europe and around the world. It was not only used for artists paints and house paints; it also became an important ingredient for the early rubber industry.

Ochre from Roussillon was an important French export until the mid-20th century, when major markets were lost due to the Russian Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. Ochre also began to face growing competition from newly synthetic pigment industry. The mines in Roussillon closed, though the production of natural ochre pigments continued at mines in Cyprus and other sites.


See also

Notes and citations

  1. See American and British English spelling differences#-re, -er)
  2. ocher. American Heritage Dictionary . 1969.
  3. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (2002), Oxford University Press.
  4. The Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition, (1980). "Any of a class of natural earths, mixtures of hydrated oxides of iron and various earthy materials, ranging in colour from pale yellow to orange and red, and used as pigments. A colour ranging from pale yellow to reddish-yellow."
  5. Ochre. Collier's New Encyclopedia. 1921.
  6. 1 2 Roelofs, Isabelle (2012). La couleur expliquée aux artistes. Groupe Eyrolles. ISBN   978-2-212-134865. p. 30
  7. In African Cave, Signs of an Ancient Paint Factory
  8. Hiscock, Archaeology of Ancient Australia p. 125
  9. Giulia Battiti Sorlini, "The Megalithic Temples of Malta", Por Anthony Bonanno, Archaeology and fertility cult in the ancient Mediterranean: papers presented at the First International Conference on Archaeology of the Ancient Mediterranean, University of Malta, 2–5 September 1985, p.145.
  10. http://www.webexhibits.org/pigments/intro/antiquity.html%7CWebexhibits -Pigments through the ages - antiquity
  11. Hamilton R. (2007). Ancient Egypt: The Kingdom of the Pharaohs. Parragon Inc. p. 62.
  12. Mercer, Henry C. (2000). Ancient carpenters' tools illustrated and explained, together with the implements of the lumberman, joiner, and cabinet-maker in use in the eighteenth century (Dover ed.). Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. p. 308. ISBN   978-0486320212.
  13. Morris, David (2013). Shepherds' Huts & Living Vans. Amberley Publishing Limited. ISBN   978-1445621418 . Retrieved 24 November 2014.
  14. Daniel Thompson, The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting, p. 98
  15. Rurenga, Declan (2017-08-09). "Wiradjuri artist's painting depicts journey of healing at hospital". Central Western Daily. Retrieved 2018-05-13.
  16. "Lake Mungo 3". Personal.une.edu.au. Archived from the original on 2014-01-26. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  17. Bowler JM, Johnston H, Olley JM, Prescott JR, Roberts RG, Shawcross W, Spooner NA (2003). "New ages for human occupation and climatic change at Lake Mungo, Australia". Nature. 421 (6295): 837–40. doi:10.1038/nature01383. PMID   12594511.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. "Aboriginal Art Online, Traditional painting methods". Aboriginalartonline.com. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  19. "Ochre samples, National Museum of Australia". Nma.gov.au. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  20. Dieffenbach cited in Wells, B., 1878. The history of Taranaki. Edmondson and Avery, New Plymouth.
  21. "Red ochre in Newfoundland". Fisheriesheritage.ca. 2006-09-24. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  22. Ingeborg Marshall, The Beothuk of Newfoundland: A Vanished People, Breakwater Books, 1989, p.5.
  23. The Megalithic Portal and Megalith Map. "C. Michael Hogan, Los Osos Back Bay, Megalithic Portal, editor A. Burnham (2008)". Megalithic.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-27.
  24. Mcbrearty, Sally; Brooks, Alison S. (2000-11-01). "The revolution that wasn't: a new interpretation of the origin of modern human behavior". Journal of Human Evolution. 39 (5): 453–563. doi:10.1006/jhev.2000.0435. PMID   11102266.
  25. Crandall, David P. (2000). The Place of Stunted Ironwood Trees. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group Inc. p. 48
  26. Daniel V. Thompson, The Materials and Techniques of Medieval Painting, p. 99
  27. Lara Broecke, Cennino Cennini's Il Libro dell'Arte: a New English Translation and Commentary with Italian transcription, Archetype 2015, p. 71
  28. "Auberge D'Aragon" (PDF). National Inventory of the Cultural Property of the Maltese Islands. 28 December 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016.
  29. The Times, Police, 5 February 1894; pg. 14

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References