Chica Red

Is extracted from the leaves of a tree growing in central and southern

America. A sample examined by Mr. O'Neill was in small irregular lumps,

of a bright scarlet colour, adherent to the tongue like indigo, and

taking a metallic polish of a greenish reflection, when rubbed against a

hard smooth body, as the finger nail. So far it seems to be only

employed by the Indians as a paint for their bodies, mixed up with fatty

matters. It has doubtless been used in painting: for in the old churches

of those parts of America there is a good deal of red colour, which

remains brilliant and sound after a couple of centuries; and from the

appearance of it, and such accounts as can be collected, it is probably

this chica. A portion was forwarded to an eminent artist in England, to

ascertain whether it would be of any value as a pigment in the fine

arts. His report is stated to have been unfavourable; and the chica,

contained in a gourd labelled "Chica d'Andiguez," was then tested as to

its capabilities for dyeing and printing. Fine and durable reds were

found to be produced by it upon woollen, equal to those of cochineal. To

mordanted calico the shades imparted were dull and heavy, but very

solid. Chica is described as a very strong colouring matter, a small

quantity dyeing a large amount of cloth, and as more nearly resembling

lac lake than anything else.

No information existing as to its price, or the quantity that could be

obtained if it were wanted, chica remains in the state of an unapplied

product. If it really possess, however, the durability assigned to it,

this red is worth attention. With regard to the artist's disapproval,

the chica sent him may not have been properly or sufficiently prepared

to adapt it for a pigment.

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