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gint, and is described as being the cærulean, or deep blue of the skyindigo, as we should say.
“ This Thechēlet, or deep blue, was obtained from a molluscous animal called 797507 (Chilzon), whether a buccinum or not, I do not know, (perhaps, Buccinum Lapillus.) The Rabbins say, that as the animal grows, its shell grows with it, which leaves no doubt as to its molluscous nature, and is against the supposition of its being a kind of Sepia, as some think.
“ The Rabbins, however, have many fables about this Chilzón-such as, that it rises to the surface of the sea every seventy years. And one of their questions was, “Does a man commit one sin, or several, who crushes a live chilzon, for the sake of the dye, on the Sabbath-day? And the passage, Deut. x. xxiii. 19, “ They shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of treasures hid in the sand,' is paraphrased in the Targum of Jonathan, • They shall feed on abundance of the Taritha, (a delicious fish of the Thunny kind,) and catch numbers of the chilzön!
“Maimonides gives an account of the manufacture of Thechelet from the chilzon. There is nothing very important in it; the wool was steeped and washed, and then the blood of the chilzon, with various dyer's drugs, was poured on it, till it was the colour of the sky.
“No other blue would answer for sacred use but this; and the command of Moses, Numbers xv. 38, "To put on the fringe of the garment a ribbon of blue,' is now disobeyed by the Jews, because they have lost the art of dying from the chilzon.
“ The purple (Argāman) and the hyacinth, or conchylium (Thechēlet) are constantly distinguished by ancient writers. Vitruvius states, (but I do not know with what authority,) that the purple was made 'ex buccino et conchylio admisto;' but that the colour called conchylium was ex solo conchylio.'
“Another red colour was called xas Laca, and was principally employed in dying leather ; perhaps not unlike the present morocco leather. It was called, too, x3370 (Sarlaca) or Tyrian red; and this word Sarlaca affords the most probable derivation that I have met for our word Scarlet. The Laca was, I think, obtained from some kind of alga; 718 (Phook) is the Hebrew word for fucus, which is plainly derived from it.”
The chilzon may be a species of serpula, of which I found such numbers on the coast of Tyre, the interior of which were stained a purple colour.
The engraving at page 379 exhibits a fragment of the breccia of shells that I obtained in the mills or dye-pots sunk in the rocks at Tyre, of which no doubt can now exist, but that they are portions of the Murer Trunculus ; and those at page 380 show a recent specimen of the same shell, from the coast about Smyrna, and a smaller one of the same kind, which I picked up on the strand near the Tyrian peninsula.
The larger Murex belongs to my friend Mr. R. Ball, who, on my show
ing him the breccia, at once produced this shell, as being the same as those broken-up pieces in the conglomerate.
No doubt, a dyeing material can be obtained from a variety of turbinated shells, that have a very large geographical distribution. Fabius Columua seems, however, to be the first who supposed that the Murex Trunculus was the actual shell, and since his day, this opinion has been adopted by Cuvier and Lamark; and experiments were performed on different shells, but particularly the Buccinum Lapillus of Linnæus, by Reaumur and Duhamel, to show how the dye could be obtained ; but the opinions of authors amount, at best, to a well-founded supposition, and might as well have applied to any of the several varieties of mollusca that afford a colouring matter; whereas, the fact of finding the shell in the actual dyeing-pots at Tyre, appears to set this disputed question at rest. This dye appears to have been in use up to the introduction of Christianity; for, besides that a Syrophænician woman is represented as a seller of purple, the elder Pliny, from whom I have already quoted so largely, flourished seventy-nine years after the birth of Christ. After this, we have no account of the manufacture ; probably it declined with the decay of its native city, and even at the time of the Roman naturalist a substitute had been found in the Kermes procured from the Coccus Ilicis, a parasitic insect found upon the evergreen oak. The dye then seems to have been lost; until, upon the discovery of India and the New World, equivalents for it were found in indigo and cochineal. Da Costa was of opinion that the liquor of the purple-marking whelk of Cornwall (Buccinum Lapillus) was a valuable dye to the ancient English, and quotes the venerable Bede, who lived in the seventh century. “ There are,” says Bede, “snails in very great abundance, from which a scarlet or crimson dye is made, whose elegant redness never fades, either by the heat of the sun or the injuries of rain; but the older it is, the more elegant." —Bede Eccles. Hist. L. 1, c. 1. p. 227.
From my friend, George Finlay, Esq. of Athens, who kindly undertook to make inquiries for me with regard to the ancient manufacture of the Tyrian dye upon the coast of Elis, I have lately received the following communication :
“ That no tradition of any kind exists in Greece, which ascends back for centuries, I can safely say, as I have paid a good deal of attention to searching for the traditions of the country, in every part of it, and I have seldom found any traces which ascended more than a few generations. I have, however, for some time been engaged in writing a history of the Hellenic people, from the decline of the Roman empire to the present time, and I find frequent mention of the manufactures of the Peloponnesus. The Jewish traveller, Benjamin of Tudela, who visited Greece in the twelfth century, mentions also a Jewish colony of 2,000 persons, which was established at Thebes, and carried on an extensive silk manufactory, and purple dyeing. In the life of Basil, the Macedonian, by the Emperor
Constantine Porphyrogenitus, (Basil reigned from 867 to 886,) mention is made of richly dyed cloths and carpets; and the fishers for purple (oxyxvareute) are noticed as exempted from military service in the reign of Romanus Lecapenus (935), which you find in Constantine Porphyrogenitus's De Administrando Imperio, cap. 52. But I have no means of as. certaining whether the shell was the same species of Murex as that used in Phænicia or not. It is, however, almost certain, from the general similarity of all the shells found on the coasts of Greece and Syria, which, I am told, almost universally correspond in species, and from the fact of Benjamin of Tudela mentioning Jerusalem and Thebes as two towns where Jews were great purple dyers. Their removal to Thebes would be caused by the advantage of living on the spot where the silk was manufactured, and their secret in dying purple would of course be the Phænician method.”
Walker, in his Irish Bards, enumerates the colours and dying materials used by the ancient Irish, as black, crimson, purple, and yellow.
“There is,” says he, “ a beautiful crimson obtained from the periwinkle, and a kind of limpet, of red, white, black, yellow, brown, and saud colours. The fish is laid with its mouth downward on some solid body, and the shell broke, but so as not to bruise the fish. When the shell is picked off, there appears a white vein, lying transversely in a furrow, next the head, which may be taken out by a bodkin, or other pointed instrument. If periwinkles are used, the shell is not to be broken. The vein lying on the head, on being pricked with a pin, distils a few drops of a white milky liquor, without injuring the fish, which may be pricked thus once a day for four or five times. The letters, &c. drawn on the linen with this liquor, obtained from either fish, first appear a light green, then a deep green, and, in a few miutes, turn to a full sea-green; then, a blue, afterwards a deep purple red, and all in a few hours, if exposed to the sun. But, after washing it in hot water and soap, the purple becomes a beautiful bright crimson, which nothing can change."- Walker's Irish Bards, Vol. II. p. 261.
At Nycoya, in the West Indies, Gage found a shell, resembling the ancient purpura, and used for a like purpose ; but the descriptions of this author are so very like those of Pliny, as to their hiding before the rise of the dog-star, disappearing for three hundred days, &c. that he seems to have studied the latter too closely. At Guayaquil, in South America, there was, some time ago, a considerable manufactory of this article, and the cloths dyed with it were only allowed to be worn by the Spanish lords. It is also known to the inhabitants of the South Sea and Carribean Islands, where it is called Burgum.
In 1684, Mr. W. Code, of Bristol, made a communication upon this subject to the Royal Society of London, in which he states that he obtained a purple dye from the Buccinum Lapillus, found on the coast of Somersetshire, and North Wales, similar to that found on the coast of Pitou; and also states, that at that time a trade was carried on in Ireland,
by persons who went about marking handkerchiefs and linen, with a dye obtained, likewise, from the Buccinum Lapillus. Phil. Trans. vol. ii. p. 823.
This art is still known to some of the people on the Wicklow coast.
In the fifth vol. of the “ Belfast Magazine,” (1810,) there is an account of some recent experiments performed on this colouring matter, extracted from Montague's Testacea Britannica. In this case the animal used was likewise the Buccinum Lapillus, and afterwards the Turbo Clathrus. These experiments I have repeated with the Buccinum Lapillus, and they gave the like result. Those I made use of were collected by my friend Dr. Farran, at Howth and Malahide, where they abound in such quantities on the rocks, that tons weight of them could be collected in a short time.
On breaking the shell, the colouring fluid will be found contained in a receptacle, lying in a sulcus behind the neck of the animal. This receptacle can be at once distinguished by the whitish-grey colour of the fluid that it contains, and by its tortuous, worm-like appearance. On removing this, which is of the consistence of cream, with a sharp-pointed instrument, and applying it to any linen, woollen, cotton, or silken textures, it, in a few seconds, assumes a straw-colour, then a light green; presently, the margin of the coloured part becomes a pinkish red, and, as the drying proceeds, the whole deepens into a vivid purple, which, on washing, increases in lustre and intensity. It must, however, be exposed to solar light, and the more intense the light, the sooner will the changes of colour take place, and the more beautiful the tint produced.
To show the effect of light upon this substance, the following experiment may be instanced. I soaked a piece of flannel in a solution of this juice, and pinned it against the window-frame, in a strong light; having been called away, I did not remove the bit of flannel for above two hours. When I returned, I found that the side next the light had assumed the usual purple colour, but the reverse side, that away from the light, and which was also perfectly dry, had remained a green—that hue which is the second step in the transition; and this colour remained fixed.
I do not believe that there was any mordant used to strike or fix the dye, for it is an animal indigo, and contains a mordant in itself; there was no need, therefore, of the tin which the ships of Tarshish brought from Cornwall being used for this purpose. And the salt, mentioned by Pliny, seems to me to have been used, not as a mordant, but in order to purge out the juice from the animals ; Templeman, however, has proved that salt has no effect whatever.
“ It was found,” says the writer of the article in the Belfast Magazine, and I have had similar results, "that after the colour was fixed at its last natural change, nitrous, no more than vitriolic acid, had no other effect than that of rather brightening it; aqua regia, with and without solution of tin, and marine acid, produced no change; nor had any fixed or volatile alkali any sensible effect.”
I have found that the colour decreases in lustre by the animal being kept for any time out of its natural element. From the experiments upon the Turbo Clathrus I quote the following :
" As the animal becomes sickly by keeping for some days in sea-water, it frequently discharges a most beautiful purple liquor. This circumstance was known to Plancus, who observes that it was one of those shells which yield the purple dye of the Mediterranean; and which is also recorded by Martini. It may, indeed, with much reason, be conjectured that this is really one of the shells from the animal of which the ancients procured their famous purple dye; though if Pliny is consulted, the shells that produced this precious colour were either Murices or Buccines, or both.
Glowing with Tyrian Murex,' is an expression of Virgil, that indicates it to have been collected from shells of that genus only; but we must recollect that conchology was, at the time of those writers, in its very infancy; scarcely systematized, or formed into any divisions, so that Turbo Clathrus may possibly have some claim to the credit of contributing to the celebrated Tyrian Murex.”
The colour of this animal differs, however, materially from that of the Buccinum Lapillus, for
“ Mineral acids turn it to a bluish green, or sea-green; sulphuric acid renders it a shade more inclining to blue : vegetable acids probably do not affect it, since cream of tartar did not in the least alter it. These colours laid on paper, were very bright, and appeared for some months unchanged by the action of the air, or the sun; but being exposed for a whole summer to the solar rays, in a south window, they almost vanished. The application of alkali to the acidulated colour always restored it to its primitive state, and was as readily changed again by mineral acid; in particular, it differs materially from the succus of Buccinum Lapillus, which we have before remarked is unalterable. Its property is materially different from litmus, which is turned from blue to red, with the most trifling mixture of any acid. It differs, also, from vegetable colours in general by not being affected by alkali, which turns the infusion of blue or purple flowers to green.”
No reliance can, I conceive, be placed on the accounts of the ancients, as to what the exact animal was; some supposing it to have been a Purpura, some a Murex, and others a Buccinum or a Turbo; all of which do, no doubt, yield a dye, but the finding of the breccia of the Murex Trunculus, in the dye-pots at Tyre, is, I think, conclusive.
There is, I understand, a tradition among Irish antiquaries, that the shells were found on this coast, and that it was for this purpose the Tyrians voyaged so far west. This, however, is not very likely, when the shells that give the colouring matter were found, so abundantly, near home, and the Murer Trunculus is not found here ; besides, unless they manufactured it on the Irish coast, it would be of little worth, for, unlike cochineal, the colour fades on the death of the animal.
Stone mortars, similar to those found at Tyre, were in use among the