Deluge of Atlantis

Deluge of Atlantis
Deluge of Atlantis

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Cochineal and Lacquer

Cochineal Scale Insects infesting a Pricly-Pear Cactus

Drawings of the Cochineal insects
From Wikipedia.

Cochineal Extract. A very valuable and expensive dye is derived from the crushed bodies of millions of these small insects and in PreColumbian times it was widely traded from Mexico to Peru and up to the Southern United States. It is valuable in making varnishes and in tanning leather red or staining carved wooden objects. It was also traded across the Pacific into India and Southern Asia as was noted on an earlier blog posting, and the prickly-pear cactus it grows on along with it. Neither the insect or the cactus is native to that part of the world. Since the Cochineal bugs are also found on the Canary Islands, they might also have been present on Atlantis when it was above the waves: but the common explanation is that the bugs were imported to the Canary Islands by the Spanish Conquistadores.

The native Indian and South-Asian equivalent to the Cochineal bug is the Lac, from which we get the terms "Shellac" and "Lacquer." The word Lac means a very great number and is a reference to the great numbers of the small insects which are used to make this extract. The fact that the Ancient Indians and Mexicans both had the concept of making Lac probably indicates that they both started from the same ancient parent culture, but as you can see the colour of the Lac is not so strong as it is n the Cochineal. So it stands to reason that when the new variety with the better colour was found, it was brought back home by later generations of explorers.

Best Wishes, Dale D.

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