Dictionarium polygraphicum. Kermes.

Dictionarium Polygraphicum:
Or, The Whole Body of Arts Regularly Digested.
Vol II.
London: Printed for C. Hitch and C. Davis in Pater-noster Row, and S. Austen in St. Paul's Church Yard. MDCCXXXV.
KERMES is a kind of husk or excrescence, as it is generally thought, about the bigness of a Juniper-berry, round, smooth, and shining, of a beautiful red, and full of a mucilaginous juice of the same colour.

The name is purely Arabick, for in that country these berries grow on a small tree or shrub; and from that their native soil were transplanted into Spain, Provence, and Languedoc, where they now are plentiful.

It is found sticking to the leaves and bark of a kind of ilex or holm-oak, in Spain, Languedoc, and other hot countries.

It has a vinous smell, a bitter but agreeable taste; and its liquor contains an infinite number of little round or oval eggs.

The origin of the Kermes is suppos'd to be owing to a little worm, which pricking the holm-oak, to draw its nourishment from it, raises a little tumour or vessel, which fills with juice, and as it ripens becomes red.

When the Kermes is dried, there comes out of it an infinite number of little insects and flies, so small, that they are scarce discernible; insomuch that the whole inward substance seems converted into them.

For this reason it is sometimes call'd vermilion, (unless perhaps it be so call'd from its beautiful vermilion colour.)

To prevent that inconvenience, they usually steep the Kermes in vinegar before they dry it.

The manner of preparing it for dying is as follows:

The grain being taken when ripe, it is spread on linnen: and at first, when it abounds most in moisture, it is turned a or 3 times a day, to prevent its heating, till such time as there appears a red powder among it; then it is separated by being pafled through a searce, and afterwards the grain is spread abroad on linnen, till the same redness of powder is perceived, and then the sifting is repeated again; and thus they proceed while they discover a red powder on the surface of the grain, which is still pafled through the scarce till it will yield no more.

In the beginning, when the small red grains are seen to move, as they will do, they are sprinkled over with strong vinegar and rubbed between the hands.

Were not this precaution taken, out of every grain would be formed a little fly, which would skip and fly about for a day or two, and at last, changing its colour, would fall down dead.

The grain being quite emptied of its pulp, or red powder, is washed in wine, and then exposed to the sun; after this, 'tis put up in small bags, putting along with it the proportion of red dust that the grain had afforded.

According to M. Marsilli's experiments made at Montpellier, the grain of Kermes has the effect of galls, when mixed with vitriol, and makes a good ink.

Mix'd with oil of tartar or lime-water, its colour turns from a vermilion to a crimson colour.

In a decoction of turnsol-flowers it retains its proper colour.

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