Vermilion: Ukiyo-e colorant

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Goat Standing by a Plum Tree by Totoya Hokkei

Vermilion 朱(shu): A bright red pigment composed of synthetically prepared red mercuric sulfide. Vermilion is chemically identical to the mineral Cinnabar (辰砂 shinsha).

Vermilion appears to have been rarely used as a colorant for woodblock printing. In the mid-1800's it seems to have been mixed with madder to create a somewhat brighter color with an orange cast mostly seen used on cartouches. Although not part of the printing matrix, vermilion is commonly found in seals on some surimonos. Vermilion is the commonly used red ink for seals.

For more information see: Vermilion

Examples of Vermilion in Ukiyo-e Prints

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Beauties of the Yoshiwara by Suzuki Harunobu

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Beauties of the Yoshiwara by Suzuki Harunobu

Dyed indigo.jpg

Indigo FORS.JPG
Beauties of the Yoshiwara by Suzuki Harunobu

Dyed indigo.jpg

Indigo FORS.JPG
Beauties of the Yoshiwara by Suzuki Harunobu

Dyed indigo.jpg

Indigo FORS.JPG
Beauties of the Yoshiwara by Suzuki Harunobu

Analysis

X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF) is used to detect mercury, which is an indication for the presence of vermilion (HgS).

Other Images of Vermilion

List of Prints

Below is a list of prints where vermilion was detected.