Flavonoids: Ukiyo-e colorant

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Yoritomo's Hunt by Torii Kiyomitsu I

Flavonoids フラボノイド: A group of organic colorants composed of heterocyclic aromatic compounds. For this database, a group of organic yellow colorants have been grouped under flavonoids due to this common chemical composition and difficulty in identifying them individually. Organic yellow colorants that have been thought to have been traditionally used and that fall into this category are: Gardenia (梔子 kuchinashi), Miscanthus tinctorius (苅安 kariyasu), Japanese bayberry (山桃 yamamomo), Japanese pagoda tree (槐 enju), and Toringo crabapple (棠梨 zumi).

Flavonoids have been detected throughout the production of prints from 1690's through the 1860's. With current non-destructive analytical techniques, it is difficult to identify the exact source of each flavonoid. Flavonoids are duller and more beige when compared to the vibrant yellows produced by turmeric and orpiment. On prints, the dull appearance of flavonoids is little known since it can be their natural state or due to age and/or fading.

For more information see: Flavonoid, Gardenia, Gardenia LC, Kariyasu, Chinese grass (Miscanthus tinctorius) LC, Pagoda tree, Pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum) LC, Zumi

Examples of Flavonoids in Ukiyo-e Prints


Pt 1: hand applied
Torii Kiyotada I, 11.13273


11.19694 EEM June 11 2014.jpg
Pt 5: printed
Torii Kiyomitsu I, 11.19694


11.19633 EEM June 11 2014.jpg
Pt 4: printed
Suzuki Harunobu, 11.19633


Pt 5: printed
Kitagawa Utamaro I, 11.14364


Pt 5: printed
Utagawa Toyokuni I, 11.30331


11.20417 EEM Jan 20 2019.jpg
Pt 7: printed
Katsushika Hokusai, 11.20417

add 11.19020


Flavonoids, such as Japanese pagoda tree (enju) and Miscanthus tinctorius (kariyasu) fluoresce weakly under ultraviolet radiation and have some differences in their EEM patterns. At this point, however, due to the difficulty in distinguishing these organic yellows, the decision was made to group them as flavonoids to minimize mistakes in identification.

Images of Flavonoids

List of Prints

Below is a list of prints where flavonoids were detected.

Pages in category "Flavonoids: Ukiyo-e colorant"

The following 55 pages are in this category, out of 55 total.