A yellow-orange gum-resin produced by several species of Garcinia tree found in India, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Ceylon. Gamboge was used as a yellow pigment as early as the 8th century in Asia and Japan. It was regularly imported to Europe in the 17th century but a few earlier deliveries may have occurred. Gamboge is composed of a yellow resinous component (70-80%; morelloflavone) and a clear water-soluble gum (20%). Gamboge is marketed in the form of dull, brownish-yellow cakes or lumps. When powdered, it has a rich golden color. Gamboge is used as a transparent colorant in glazes, varnishes, and watercolors. The carbohydrate gum acts as a natural binder. The yellow color fades when exposed to light or ozone. In some cases it has recovered its color when placed in the dark.
Synonyms and Related Terms
Garcinia sp.; Natural Yellow 24; gomaguta (Esp., Port.); Gummigutt (Deut.); gomme-gutte (Fr.); gomma gutta (It.); giallo Cambogia (It.); gamboji (Jap.); shio (Jap.); kiyo (Jap.); gamboge (Ned., Port.); camboge; cambogia; gum gutta; gutto gumbo; guti ambar; gambogium; rattan yellow; wisteria yellow; gummi-gutti; Siam gamboge; Ceylon gamboge; gokatu gamboge
Yellow resinous portion is soluble in ethanol. Colorless carbohydrate portion is soluble in water. Burns with an odor of resin. Turns red in dilute alkali solutions.
The small amorphous particles are transparent in transmitted light.
ISO R105 Lightfastness Classification = 2-3
Hazards and Safety
Discolors to red with ammonia and other alkali. Fades in sunlight or ozone.
Toxic by ingestion.
J.Winter, "Gamboge", Artists Pigments, Volume 3, E. West FitzHugh (ed.), Oxford University Press: Oxford, 1997.
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