« ElőzőTovább »
different colours require very elaborate preparations. My design is not to enter into a particular detail of all the colours which may have been then in ufe, nor to examine the different operations they used in dying the stuffs. I fhall only fpeak of those which deferve a particular atten tion. I begin with purple, that colour fo valuable, and fo famous with the ancients.
It was to chance alone, according to the tradition of all antiquity, that they owed the difcovery of this beautiful colour. A fhepherd's dog, preffed by hunger, having broken a fhell on the fea-fhore, the blood which ran from it ftained the dog's mouth fuch a colour as ftruck the admi ration of those that faw it. They endeavoured to apply it to stuffs, and fucceded. There is some variety among the authors in the circumstances of this event. Some place this discovery in the reign of Phoenix fecond King of Tyre, that is to fay, a little more than 500 years be fore Chrift*. Others, at the time that Minos the First reigned in Crete, about 1439 years before the Chriftian æra. But the greatest number agree to give the honour to the Tyrian Hercules of the invention of dying stuffs in purple. He gave his first trials to the King of Phoenicia. That prince, they fay, was fo jealous of the beauty of this new colour, that he forbade the use of it to all his fubjects; reserving it for Kings, and the prefumptive heir of the crown 2.
Some authors bring love into the difcovery of purple. Hercules, fay they, being taken with the charms of a nymph called Tyros; his dog one day finding on the feafhore a fhell, broke it, and stained his mouth with purple. The nymph obferved it: charmed at fight with the beauty of the colour, fhe declared to her lover, that he would fee
* Caffiodor. variar. I. 1. ep. 2. p. 4.; Achill. Tat. de Clitophon. & Leucipp. amor. 1. 2. p. 87., Palaephat. in chron. Pafchal. p. 43. C.
y Palaephat. loco cit.; Cedren. p. 18. D.
* Phoenix was fon of Agenor, and brother of Cadmus. Apollodor. 1. 3. ¥29. Cadmus came into Greece 1519 years before Christ.
Suid. in voce Hfanais, t. 2. p. 73.
Autor. fupra, laudati.
him no more till he brought her a fuit dyed the fame colour. Hercules thought of a way to fatisfy his mstress. He got together a great number of fhells, and fucceeded to ftain a robe the colour the nymph had demanded ↳.
Such are the different traditions the ancients give out of the origin of purple dye. We perceive very plainly that all these recitals are accompanied with fabulous episodes. I have nevertheless thought proper to relate them, as they may serve to fix the epoch of this difcovery *. I think we may place it about the times I have indicated. We fee that Mofes made a great use of purple stuffs †, as well for the habits of the high priest, as for the ornaments of the tabernacle. This is a proof that then the art of preparing purple was not abfolutely new; for there muft have been fome time to bring this colour to its degree of perfection. They could not attain to that but after many effays and trials.
The teftimony of Homer ferves ftill more to confirm the antiquity of this difcovery. This great poet, an exact obferver of customs, gives purple ornaments to heroes who lived about the ages where I place the difcovery of this dye. We might quote more teftimonies.
It is more easy to fix the epoch when they began first to
Pollux, 1. 1. c. 4. p. 30.
Bochart. Hieroz. part. 2. 1. 5. c. 11. explains very well this little novel, He fhews that in the Syriac the fame word fignifies a dog and a dyer, from whence the Greeks took occasion to say that it was a dog who had discovered purple
* Palaephat, & Cedren, locis citat. were very ill informed when they said, that, before the discovery of purple, they were ignorant of dying. The contrary is proved by the Bible. See Gen. chap. 38. v. 27.
It is not quite certain, according to M. Huet, that the word 1018 Argaman, of the Hebrew text which all the interpreters tranflate by purpura, means in reality that colour. This bishop obferves, that Argaman comes from N Arag, textuit, and from Manah, praeparavit. It should follow, according to his opinion, that Argaman fhould fignify rather a fort of work and a tissue, not a colour. Rec. de Tilladet, t. 2. differt. 22. p. 255. & 256.
But this reafoning ought not to deftroy the common translation, because the word Argaman is ufed in the Bible, as the word purpura with profane writers, to design the robes of Kings.
c Iliad.1. 6. v. 219.
See Appollon. Rhol. Argon. 1. 1. v. 723. 1. 4. v. 424. & 425.
know purple, than to give a clear and precife idea of the procedure of the ancients to give to their ftuffs this fo much fought after colour. This is all that remains that one can depend upon on this fubject.
The purple dye was drawn from many forts of fea-fhells *. The best were found near the ifle where new Tyre was built. They fifhed for them in other places of the Mediterranean. The coafts of Africa were famous for the purple of Getulia. The coafts of Europe fupplied the purple of Laconia which they had in great efteems. Pliny ranges in two claffes all the forts of teftaceous fifh which ferved to dye purple; the buccinums, or trumper-fifh, and the fhells called purples, from the name of the colour they furnish ". These laft were particularly fought after. They found, by the ac count of the ancients, in the throat of the fish, a white vein which contained a dark red colour. This was the ground of purple dye. All the rest of the fhell was useless. The effential point was to take these fishes alive; for the moment of their death they loft this precious liquor 1. They collected it carefully. After having left it to macerate in falt for three days, they mixed it with a certain quantity of water. They boiled the whole in a leaden pot over a flow and moderate fire for ten days. They afterwards put in the wool, being well washed, cleanfed, and properly prepared. At first they left it to foak for five hours; they then took it out, carded it, and put it again into the boil
'Tis for this reason that the Latins called purple habits conchiliatae veftes. e Plin. 1. 9. fect. 65. p. 524.
f Ibid. 1. 5. fect. 1. p. 242.1. 9. fect. 60. p. 524.
8 Ibid. fect. 60. p. 524. 525.; Paufan. I. 3. c. 21. p. 294. I. 10. c. 37. p. 893. ; Horat. carmin. 1. 2. od. 18. v. 8.
h1. 9. fect. 61. p. 525.
i Arift. hift. animal. I. 5. c. 15. p. 844.; Plin. 1. 9. fect. 65. p. 524.,
* Ariftotle and Pliny, locis cit.; Vitruv. 1. 7. c. 13.
Ariftotle and Pliny obferve, that it was only in the large fhells that they took the vein. As to the fmall ones, they crushed them with millstones. This purple was not in fuch esteem as the former.
Ibid. locis cit.; Ælian. de animal. 1. 7. c. I.
M. de Juffieu, in a memoir which we shall speak of below, obferves the fame thing with respect to the fish that furnishes the purple of Panama.
Cicero philof. frag. t. 3. p. 424.
er till all the dye was drank up and confumed. They were obliged to mix different forts of fhells to make purple. They added to it various forts of ingredients, as nitre, human urine, water, falt, and fucus, a fea-plant, of which the best fort is found in abundance on the rocks of the ifle of Crete P.
The Tyrians, by the confeffion of all antiquity, fucceeded the best in dying stuffs purple. Their operation differed a little from what I have related above. They used nothing to make their colour, but purple fhells. taken out at sea. They made a bath of the liquor they drew from thefe fishes. They steeped their wool in this a certain time. They afterwards took it out, and put it into another boiler where there was nothing but buccina or trumpet-fish 9. This is all that the ancients tell us of the practice of the Tyrians. In Solomon's fong there is alfo mentioned a royal purple which the dyers dipt in the canals, after having tied it in small bundles. We shall give a glimpse in these few words, of some partiticular preparations, an exact account of which we cannot obtain *.
We know that the purple ftuffs the most esteemed were those which were twice dyed. This preparation was very ancient. The purple ftuffs which Mofes used for the worhip of the Almighty, had been dyed twice. It was thus that they made this colour fo valuable, that it vied even
Plin. 1.9. fec. 62. p. 526. • Id. ibid.
PIbid. locis cit. p. 526. fect. 64. p. 527. 1. 13. fect. 48. p. 700. 1. 26. fect.06. 1. 31. fect. 46. p. 565. 1. 32. fe&. 22. p. 581.; Plut. t. 2. p. 433. B.; Theoph. hift. plant. 1. 4. c. 7. p. 82. See alfo Turneb. adverfar. 1. 9. c. 5.
Plin. 1. 9. fect. 62. p. 526.
Chap. 7. V. 5.
* I fhall only offer some conjectures.
The best way of washing wools, after they are dyed, is to plunge them in running water. Probably the facred author had this practice in view, when he faid they fhould dip the royal purple in canals. As to what he adds, after being tied in little bundles, or packets, one may conclude from this circumftance, that inftead of making the cloth with white wool, and afterwards putting the whole picce into the dye, as we do now, they then followed another method. They began by dying the wool in fkeins, and made it afterwards into purple stuffs
1 Exod.ch. 25. V. 4.
with gold it felf. One ought not to be furprised at it. The vein of the shell-fish from whence they got the purple, only furnished a very fmall quantity of liquor. Befides, it must be collected before the death of the fish, without reckoning the other preparations which required much time and precaution *, and without mentioning the rifk they ran in fishing for these fhells at the bottom of the fea". I fhall confine myself to this fhort expofition of the preparations the ancients made ufe of to dye ftuffs purple. Those who defire a more particular account, may confult the modern authors who have applied themselves to find out, in the writings of the ancients, all the facts that have any relation to this matter *.
We find in Ariftotle and Pliny fome details of the preparation of purple; but they are not fufficiently circumftantial. As Ariftotle and Pliny writ in the times when this practice was very common, what they have faid was then fufficient to give an idea of it; but it is too little to clear it up to us now, as they have left off the use of this dye for many ages. Accordingly, in fpite of all the writings which have appeared on the subject of this operation, it has been long doubted whether we are perfectly inftructed in the fpecies of thell. fishes from which the ancients drew purple ; they have even thought this fecret abfolutely loft; but yet it is certain it has been found again.
They have discovered, as well on the coafts of England, as on thofe of Poitou and Provence, thells which have all the characters by which the ancients defcribe the fishes which yielded the purple. We fee many in the cabinets
See Arift. hift. animal. 1. 5. c. 15. p. 844. A.; Plin. 1. 9. fect. 63. p. 527.; Athen. 1. 12. p. 526. D.
* It is very probable that the ancients had some fecret to keep in folution in a proper liquor, the blood of purple fifhes till they wanted to ufe it. See Acad. des fcienc. for 1736, hift. p. 8.
u Plin. 1. 22. fect. 3.
* See Fabius Columna, and his commentator Daniel Major.
Y Acad. des fcien. an. 1711. mem. p. 166. & 167.
* Journal des fcav. Aout 1686. p. 195. &c.
Acad. des fcien. ann. 1711. mem. p. 168. & 179. ibid. ann. 1736. mem. p. 49.