KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Vermilion. An intense orange-red pigment *ganryou 顔料, made of cinnabar *shinsha 辰砂 (mercuric sulphide, HgS). Used in China in the Yia dynasty on paintings and temple buildings, its earliest known use in Japan dates back to the Kofun period when it was applied to bodies buried in tombs. Vermilion was first produced by grinding down naturally occuring cinnabar, found in the Chinese province of Shinshu 辰州. It was also produced in ancient China from mercury and sulphur using the dry process of heat sublimation, which was introduced to Japan in the late Muromachi period. Unlike red lead *entan 鉛丹, shu was a very stable pigment which did not blacken when exposed to air. It was used for painting *nihonga 日本画, vermilion lacquer shu-urushi 朱漆, and cinnabar seal-ink shu-niku 朱肉.


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