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20 March 2013

The Nightingale

The color paintings were prepared on fine,
brilliant Wu silk, which were closely and wonderfully woven.

Traditional Chinese paints were used. The blues
and greens came from azurite, malachite, and indigo;

the reds from cinnabar, realgar, and orpiment, with the brilliant red
from coral and the pink-red from a flowering vine; umber from an iron oxide

called limonite; yellow from the sap of the rattan plant; and white from lead
or pulverized oyster shells. To all, powdered jade was added

for good fortune. These colors were mixed with stag horn, fish or ox
glue, or glue made from the pulp of the soap bean. The black

Chinese ink is ten parts pine soot, three parts powdered jade,
and one part glue made from donkey hides boiled

in Tang River water. The paints were mixed with boiling water. In
the first stage, the water looked like fish eyes; in the second,

like innumerable pearls strung together; and in the final stage,
like rolling breakers. The paints were applied with Chinese brushes made

of sheep, rabbit, goat, weasel, and wolf hairs picked in autumn,
as well as of mouse whiskers, with handles of bamboo and buffalo horn.

Where changes were required in the art, the paint was removed
by wiping the area with the juice of the apricot seed.

Illustration notes from The Nightingale by Demi (Harcourt Brace Javanovich, 1985). Submitted by J.R. Solonche.