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A natural green dye obtained from the powdered bark of the buckthorn bushes (Rhamnus globosa, Rhamnus chlorophorus, and Rhamnus utilis) that are native to China and Russia. The dye is extracted from the leaves, roots and bark with an alkaline solution. Lokao was a popular green in the 19th century because it appeared green in both daylight and artificial light. It was used for dyeing silk and cotton. The color, however, was not lightfast and was superseded by aniline greens.

Synonyms and Related Terms

lo-kao; Chinese green; buckthorn bark; vert-venus; vert-azof; vert-lumiere; Rhamnus globosa; Rhamnus chlorophorus; Rhamnus utilis

Physical and Chemical Properties

Soluble in alkalis (turns violet) and acids. Slightly soluble in water. Insoluble in alcohol, ether, carbon disulfide.

Resources and Citations

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • F. Crace-Calvert, Dyeing and Calico Printing, Palmer & Howe, London, 1876 Comment: p. 301
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 283

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