• Dye Recipes from the Mappae Clavicula, c. 800 AD. Published in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, Volume 64, Part 4.

    Author: Anonymous
    Modern English (post-1500)
    Published in 800
    Renaissance Dyeing Terms
    501 AD - 1000 AD


127. The purple dye from the murex

Murex is engendered in every sea, more than in island places. It is a little shell, which has in it a place for blood, and the blood is a reddish purple: from this the purple dye is made. It is collected like this. Take the murex and collect the blood with the flesh and take some brine from the sea and put them together in a pot and leave it.

128. yellowish-purple

Take Alexandrian alum; grind it properly, and put it on a dish and pour boiling water over it; stir it for a time and let it settle. Afterwards strain off the hot water and agitate; then put in more hot water and agitate it; and place in [the alum solution] whatever you have to dye. Cover it and leave it for 2 days. After this stir it, let it settle and leave it there 3 more days, and after this stir it around in the same way and leave it another 8 days and agitate it not more than twice a day. Then take it out and put in more alum. Then make another batch of dye and put it in, and next take clean urine from good wine and healthy men and take this urine and clarify it once, and afterwards put it in a copper cauldron; and take the same murex and wash it once lightly in water. After this grind it, and put it in thin cloths and wash it down in the urine in the cauldron. After this take some pig's blood and rub it washing it also well in the same way. 1 pound of pig's blood to 3 oz. of murex. About pig's blood. After this wash once a little pig's blood and rub it down; put it in the cauldron and make it boil a second time, and a third, in the same way, namely, 1 pound of the dye, 1 pound of murex with blood; i.e., 9 oz of murex, and 3 of pig's blood.

129. Making a bright purple from roses

For making a bright purple from roses take the cookings of three cauldrons; into one put as much as you want of the concoction and the same amount of alum. Now if you want to dye it more cleanly, put into one [the second] pot just as much as in the first. Now there will also be a third dyeing in the same way.

130. Yellow purple

Now first a yellow dye is made; after this purple enters into the dye when it is made.

166. The recipe for lulax

Take flowers of parsley, flowers of clean flax, and magma of violet of the two kinds above mentioned; that is, 1 part of the greater violet and 1 part of the lesser--now make such a magma not according to the recipe for azure but only with water. Again such magmas may also be made of the greater blue lilly-1 part. For use, both of the two magmas should be ground down into one and stored in a single glass jar. Make the magma of the lesser violet separately and make the magma of the greater blue separately. Then take 2 parts each of the parsley and the flax and 1 part of the lesser violet and 1 part of the greater one and add to one pound of magma 4 of frothed Egyptian alum, 2 solidi of the materials and 1 oz. of axle-grease soap without lime. Cook these a little, and grind 1 pound of deveined woad-leaves and mix them with the cooked magma; and grind thoroughly until it becomes powder, and put it in the sun to dry. This is lulax, light in color approaching azure, and of a good color because it does not settle out since it is made of flowers.

228. How skins should be dyed purple

Take a skin that has been stripped of hair and properly washed, and for each skin take 5 pounds of nut-gall and 21 pounds [15 lbs, SL] of water and put the skin in it and agitate for a day. After that wash it well, and dry it. Then take Asian alum and put it in hot water. After it has settled, pour off the water and put in warm water again, and agitate it. Put into this composition one or two skins and take them out and wash them at once. Now each skin should have half a pound of vermiculum. This is the first dyeing of them.

229.Dyeing purple

Put defrothed urine in a cooking pot, and place at the fire. Wrap some vermiculum that has been ground in a mortar in a linen cloth of loose mesh, put it into the pot as it is heating, and agitate it until whatever can come out of the cloth does come out. Put the residue that remains back into the mortar and grind it, wrap it in the cloth, put it into the pot while

230. Dyeing a skin red

Let a skin lie in lime for 6 days and put it in salt and barley for 7 days. Then let it dry, and afterwards knead it; then cook vermiculum in wine, and put the broth into the bladders for an hour, and let them dry.

230A. Dyeing a skin green

Stretch the skin on a rack and scrape it on both sides with a razor. Take some salt with flour and honey; mix them together, let them ferment and let the skin lie there for a night or two. Hang it in the sun, and knead it; dye it with copper, and knead it.

231. Dyeing a skin green

Take the dung of a dog, a dove, and a cock: dissolve it into a broth, and put de-haired skins into it. Process them there for 2 days, then take them out, wash them and let them dry. Then take Asian alum, and remember to do with these as we taught above should be done in the case of the purple dye. Then take well-pounded weld, cook it with urine, and when it is cooked let it cool. Sew up the skins into the form of a wineskin, as we said in the case of the purple dye, and put the mixture into these skins, and rub them well, inflating them a bit, so that it has air; and process them thoroughly until the preparation is absorbed. After this pour off the composition, wash the skins once, and again take 4 oz. of lulax to each skin and 6 pounds of defrothed urine and when the lulax is mixed with the urine, put it on the skins, just as formerly you put on the weld broth; mix well, until the wetness in the mixture is absorbed and used up. Then pour off what is left over of the weld broth and the lulax, let it dry, and dye a sheepskin in it, as we said before in the case of purple dye. It will be green.

232. Again, dyeing a skin green

Take de-haired skins, as we said above, and process them first in dung, then in alum, and when they are taken out of the mordant, sew them into bladders. Then take a half pound of lulax and mix in 10 pounds of defrothed urine put it into the bladders, and process them thoroughly, letting in a little air, as was said above. Now do this continuously for 4 days; and after the 4 days pour the mixture into sheepskins, process them for 5 days, wash them and let them dry.

233. Dyeing skins apple-green

Process skins in an apple-green dye in the same way. Treat them with alum, as we have said before, and when they have been washed after the alum, sew them up into bladders. Afterwards take well-pounded weld, cook it with well-defrothed urine, and, when it has cooled, put the broth into the bladders and process them as we said before for 5 or 6 days. After this, pour it out and dye the sheepskins as we taught above, and after dyeing wash and dry them.

234. Apple-green purple

Process skins in purple [dye] as above. Put them into alum. Wash them off and dye them with apple-green. Then mix kermes and put the mixture into the skins that you have dyed; and process them as we taught above.

235. The first pandius dyeing.

In the first pandius dyeing, process the skins in the same way as was said above and treat them with alum. After the alum treatment, wash off the mordant and dip them in vitriol; after the dipping wash them well. Then compound vermiculum, as we taught above [chap. 230]; and put some of the broth of this concoction into bladders and process them in the usual way; and when the confection has been poured out, dip the sheepskins, wash them and dry them.

236. The second pandius dyeing

Now in the second pandius dyeing when the skins have been processed as above and dipped in vitriol and washed, put some weld broth into bladders and process them for 4 days.

237. The third pandius dyeing

In the third pandius dyeing, when the skins have been processed as we said above, take some kermes broth and put it into the bladders; agitate and process as we said above.

238. Pandius again

Take 2 pounds of ground thin red-sea coral of a good color, 1 pound of murex lac, and 2 oz of calcothar; grind and mix them all together, and cook them with urine; and when you want to dye, put some of the broth into the bladders, after processing in defrothed urine; process for 2 days. After this wash them well, and dry them out.

239. Pandius again

Take madder, pound it well and cook it in a cooking pot with urine. Add a little alum, mix them together, and allow them to cool. Then strain the broth and put it into the bladders made of skins that have already been processed, and agitate wel and process them for a day, and wash and dry them. After this take one oz of weld broth and one oz of lulax, mix them together, and coat the surface of the skins with them.

240. Dyeing bones, horns, and woods green

First scrape whichever of these you want and put them into Asian alum: treat bones with alum for 12 days; horn, however, for 9 days; and wood for 4 days. Then cook well some weld, and while it is simmering, put whichever of these materials you want into it: and when it has cooled, mix some lulax, and put them into it, and leave for 5 days. Afterwards take them out and wash them.

241. Dyeing the same materials blue-green

When dyeing these things blue-green (venetum), treat whichever of them you want with alum as we said above, and make some lulax and put them in it-if it is bone, for 10 days, but if horn, for 9 days, and if wood, for 3 days.

242. Dyeing the same materials apple-green

In dyeing these apple-grean, treat the things that are to be dyed with alum, as we said above; and cook weld with defrothed urine; and when it boils, put them in it.

245. A A dressing for gilding cloth

[Put] Size(bluta) made from an oxhide on whatever kind of cloth you want to work; if it has to be polished, rub it with an onyx.

280. How soap is made from olive oil or tallow

Spread well burnt ashes from good logs over woven wickerwork made of tiny withies, or on a thin-meshed strong sieve, and gently pour hot water over them so that it goes through drop by drop. Collect the lye in a clean pot underneath and strain it two or three times through the same ashes, so that the lye becomes strong and colored. This is the first lye of the soapmaker. After it has clarified well let it cook, and when it has boiled for a long time and has begun to thicken, add enough oil and stir very well. Now, if you want to make the lye with lime, put a little good lime in it, but if you want it to be without lime, let the above-mentioned lye boil by itself until it is cooked down and reduced to thickness. Afterwards, allow to cool in a suitable place whatever has remained there of the lye or the watery stuff. This clarification is called the second lye of the soapmaker. Afterwards, work the soap with a little spade for 2,3, or 4 days, so that it coagulates well and is dewatered, and lay it aside for use. If you want to make your soap out of tallow the process will be the same, though instead of oil put in well-beaten beef tallow and add a little wheat flour according to your judgement, and let them cook to thickness, as was said above. Now put some salt in the second lye that I mentioned and cook it until it dryes out, and this will be the afronitrum for soldering.

288-D. Making French Soap

Agitate with cold water two parts of oak ashes with a third of oak lime. Afterwards when they are well stuck together, put the whole in a basket, strongly pressed down to make on top a place for the water so that it does not run away. In this you will put cold water two or three times according to the amount consumed by the underlying ashes and the lime. Not quickly but on the following day, the water will drip down onto leaves of laurel or the like placed underneath, so that later it may flow off into another pot, and this is the capitellum. Now, if you want to make soap, put in a second water following the first, and when that has run down, put in also a third, and it will be good until it becomes white. Afterwards, put some tallow, strain it, and when it is strained and cleaned on top if necessary, boil it with the last water. When it becomes thick, put in some of the second water and also some of the first. O else if you soak ground poplar berries for a day in the mixed lye and tallow and afterwards squeeze and discard them, the soap will be reddish and better. This is French soap and spaterenta, i.e., sharp.