A Dictionary of Arts: Chica.

A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines; containing A Clear Exposition of Their Principles and Practice

by Andrew Ure, M. D.;
F. R. S. M. G. S. Lond.: M. Acad. M. S. Philad.; S. PH. DOC. N. GERM. Ranow.; Mulh. Etc. Etc.

Illustrated with nearly fifteen hundred engravings on wood
Eleventh American, From The Last London Edition.
To which is appended, a Supplement of Recent Improvements to The Present Time.

New York: D Appleton & company, 200 Broadway. Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 148 Chestnut St.


CHICA is a red colouring principle made use of in America by some Indian tribes to stain their skins. It is extracted from the bignonia chica by boiling its leaves in water, decanting the decoction, and allowing it to settle and cool, when a red matter falls down, which is formed into cakes and dried. This substance is not fusible, and when burned, diffuses the same odor as animal bodies do. It is insoluble in cold water, very soluble in alcohol and ether, but after the evaporation of these liquids, it is recovered unchanged. Fats and unctuous oils both dissolve it. It is soluble in carbonated and caustic alkaline leys, from which it is precipitated by the acids without alteration. An excess of alkali, however, speedily decomposes it. Nitric acid transforms it into oxalic acid, and a bitter matter. Chlorine makes it white.

The savages mix this pigment with the fat of the cayman or alligator, and rub their skins with the mixture. It may probably be turned to account in the arts of civilized nations.

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