akane-iro  茜色
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Crimson; madder red. Known as *sohi そひ in the Nara and Heian periods. Originally, akane-iro referred to a yellowish-red color; now it usually refers to a deep red. The oldest red dye used in Japan supposedly is akane 茜, akanekazura あかねかずら, or benikazura べにかずら, mentioned in the KOJIKI 古事記 (712). This dye was made from the perennial plant madder (Rubia Cordifolia), akane, which grew wild in mountain regions. The roots were collected and left to rest for two or three years. They were then washed, soaked in water, and boiled to extract a bright red dye senryou 染料. Lye, aku 灰汁, was used as a mordant *baizai 媒済, and white rice added to absorb tannin and other impurities. The cloth or thread to be dyed had to be soaked in the lye and thoroughly dried before dipping in hot dye solution. To obtain a dark color, this process was repeated 20 or 30 times.


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