Barium copper silicate

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A general name for either a blue (BaCuSi4O10) or purple (BaCuC2O6) pigment found in paints and ceramic glazes on Chinese artifacts from the Han dynasty, 208 BCE - 220 CE.

Synonyms and Related Terms

Han blue; Han purple; Chinese blue; Chinese purple; silicato de bario y cobre (Esp.); silicato di rame e bario (It.)

Other Properties

The purple is destroyed by dilute acids with some effervescence. The blue is acid-resistant.

Both colors are strongly birefringent under crossed polars.

Refractive Index 1.72-1.74 (purple); 1.593-1.633 (blue)

Additional Information

° E.West FitzHugh, L.Zycherman "A Purple Barium Copper Silicate Pigment from Early China" Studies in Conservation 37:145-154, 1992.

° E.West FitzHugh, L.Zycherman "An Early Man-made Blue Pigment from China - Barium Copper Silicate" Studies in Conservation 28:15-23, 1983.


  • Nicholas Eastaugh, Valentine Walsh, Tracey Chaplin, Ruth Siddall, Pigment Compendium, Elsevier Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford, 2004

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