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Meeting a Ghost: A Sample of Genuine Indian Yellow

12 thoughts on “Meeting a Ghost: A Sample of Genuine Indian Yellow”

  1. Very interesting post. It is a shame that you don’t provide bibliography about the manufacturing process of Indian Yellow. I was really under the impression that the cows being fed mango leaves was a myth and everything I have read recently points in that direction. Maybe there is new studies that I have not read … yet. Love also that you shared your data. Thanks a lot for the post and all the information in the blog.

    • Hello Paulo,

      At the bottom of the article we include our sources in a bibliography section. The two by Rebecca Ploeger and one with Rebecca and Aaron Shugar offered nice synopsis of research into the manufacturing process, especially the “The Story of Indian Yellow – Excreting a Solution”. Check them out! It seems that as the science has evolved, there is mounting evidence that the story is likely true. Glad you like the content, we love sharing our testing when we can.

      • Sorry but i didn’t notice that the papers in bibliography related to that, and only noticed after downloading them and not before making the comment. Thanks for the answer!

  2. Really interesting article! Knowing the history of the color and getting some insight into the likely manufacturing process is fascinating. I believe that using urine as a processing ingredient is not that outlandish; historically, much indigo was processed with urine (and still is in some places). Even religious mores would probably not have interfered with such manufacture. Love the graphs and data as well. The title of the article The Story of Indian Yellow… is hilarious in the context of usually buttoned-up scientific titles. And finally, that this info can allow clarification of art forgery is just plain fascinating, and could be the plot of a movie.

    • Yes, Richard it is a humorous article title and an appropriate one! We are glad you enjoyed this and we agree the subject is certainly worthy of a film! It is actually amazing how much research was dedicated to this subject and in some ways there is a trickle of humor there as well.

  3. I am delighted you published the visible spectral data for this interesting pigment. Which instrument, make and model, did you use to perform the measurements?

    • Hello Robin,
      Thanks for reaching out. We added these to the article for you. We used an Xrite CI7800 for the spectrophotometer and for the FTIR we used a Bruker Alpha II ATR. Hopefully that helps! Let us know if you have more questions.

  4. HI there,
    I have had the pleasure of recently sorting the archives of Cornelissen and Sons in London (Colourmen since 1855) and found in them, two large balls of Indian Yellow, plus another jar of smaller balls… I realise my contribution will provide not an once of scientific evidence… but can tell you opening those jars (probably sealed some 30/40 years ago) was like entering a barn! A very pungent smell indeed… not unpleaseant but most certainly reminiscent of a cow shed and enough to convince me the story might indeed be no legend!
    Just thought I’d share for fun!!

  5. Thank you for the article and reader comments. It is a wonderful blending of subjective apprehension and scientific analysis. Learning about the history of the materials we use enables us to imagine the possibility of connecting to the sensibilities of artists who used them in the past.


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