A Dictionary of Arts: Sapan wood.

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.


SAPAN WOOD, is a species of the Cæsalpinia genus, to which Brazil wood belongs. It is so called by the French, because it comes to them from Japan, which they corruptly pronounce Sapan. As all the species of this tree are natives of either the East Indies or the New World, one would imagine that they could have not been used as dye-stuffs in Europe before the beginning of the 16th century. Yet the author of the article "Brazil," in Rees' Cyclopædia, and Mr. Southey, in his History of Brazil, say that Brazil wood is mentioned nearly one hundred years before the discoveries of Columbus and Vasco de Gama, by Chaucer, who died in 1400; that it was known many ages before his time; and that it gave the name to the country, instead of the country giving name to the wood, as I have stated, with Berthollet and other writers on dyeing. The Cæsalpinia sappan, being a native of the Coromandel coast, may possibly have been transported along with other Malabar merchandise to the Mediterranean marts in the middle ages; but the importation of so lumbering an article in any considerable quantity by that channel, is so improbable, that I am disposed to believe that Brazil wood was not commonly used by the dyers of Europe before the discovery of the New World.

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