WARNING! CONTAINS MERCURIC SULFIDE. Read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for precuations on handling this pigment. Cinnabar, a dense red mineral, is the principal ore of the metal mercury, usually described as an intense reddish orange or sometimes as a dark reddish purple (See Warm Cinnabar). Cinnabar varies in masstone color from strong red to vivid reddish orange in Munsell range from 5R to 7.5R. Our cold cinnabar is prepared from the mineral in ore deposits in Haydarkan, Kyrgyzstan. It has a masstone color of soft purplish red.
朱矽, 辰矽, Chinese red, Cinnabarite (of Dana), Llimpi Merkurblende, Minium (of Pliny and Vitruvius), Vermeil Zinnober
Vermilion is the standard name in English given to the red artists' pigment based on artificially made mercuric sulfide, while cinnabar is the name given to the natural mineral.
Origin and History It is an historical pigment but surprisingly not found in ancient Egyptian or early Mesopotamian objects. It was well known to the Romans and widely used in China since the third millennium B.C.
Source Cinnabar is a red crystalline form of mercuric sulfide, a red mineral of secondary origin, occurring in the oxidized zones of copper veins. Cinnabar has the highest refractive index of any other known mineral, its mean index for sodium light being 3.256, while the index for diamond—a substance of remarkable refraction—is only 2.42. It was mined by the Romans for its mercury content and it has been the main ore of mercury throughout the centuries. Some mines used by the Romans are still being mined today. Cinnabar is found in all localities which yield mercury notably Almaden, Spain; Idrija, Slovenia; Landsberg, near Ober-Moschel in the Palatinate; Ripa, at the foot of the Apuan Alps, Tuscany; the mountain Avala, Serbia; Huancavelica, Peru; Kweichow and Hunan Provinces, China; Doneckaia region, Ukraine; and California, Oregon, Texas, and Arkansas, USA.
Permanence and Compatibility Some authorities today do not consider cinnabar to be a permanent pigment. However, samples have been known to withstand exposure to direct sunlight for at least ten years. It is remarkably unreactive with other pigments despite that fact it is a sulfide. In oil-medium, it was commonly used with lead white to produce flesh tints with no sign of formation of black lead sulfide. It was used on alkaline lime fresco walls. The traditional use of red glazes of madder, kermes and cochineal lakes over cinnabar underpaint not only increases the purity (chroma) of the color, but has been shown to reduce its tendency to darken. The natural mineral is said to be more stable than manufactured vermilion. Although considered by some to be an erratic pigment, cadmium reds do not replace its special hue or physical characteristics.
Oil Absorption and Grinding Cinnabar absorbs a low amount of linseed oil when grinding the pigment in this medium. Linseed oil is very slow drying with cinnabar, yet it produces a strong paint film.
Toxicity Some authorities consider natural cinnabar to be non-toxic. Anita Albus writes that the deadly poison of mercury becomes harmless when it is stably bound with sulfur. However, we consider cinnabar to be toxic and urge caution in handling the dry powder pigment, as well as the pigment dispersed in medium.
Pigment: Cold Cinnabar
Pigment Red 106 (77766)
ASTM Lightfastness Rating
Natural Pigments is a limited liability company based in Willits, California. We manufacture and distribute rare and hard-to-find materials for fine artists and decorators. We specialize in supplying artists' materials that were used in historical painting since pre-historic times up to and including the nineteenth century.
We constantly search for materials and products of the finest quality so that we can bring them direct to you from the source. To do so, we travel the world to find materials specifically for use by professional artists and decorators. We obtain minerals from mines in Afghanistan, Chile, Russia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, to name a few places, processing these into natural pigments. We purchase resins, gums and plants from India, Kenya and Malaysia to make natural varnishes and painting mediums.
Our mission is to provide the largest variety of natural pigments, paints and other professional artists' supplies, enabling us to bring you a selection that makes shopping for rare and hard-to-find art materials easy. Our objective is to promote the education and use of these materials among artists by providing detailed information for their employment in encaustic, fresco, oil, watercolor and tempera painting.
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