Kermes (dye)

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Kermes is a red dye derived from the dried bodies the females of a scale insect in the genus Kermes, primarily Kermes vermilio. The insects live on the sap of certain trees, especially Kermes oak tree near the Mediterranean region. The English color word crimson is derived from the word kermes, and many other languages have a word for "red" that is derived from the kermes name due to the widespread use of this dye in medieval times and the rich red color that it yields. The dye is of ancient origin; jars of kermes have been found in a Neolithic cave-burial at Adaoutse, Bouches-du-Rhône.

In the Middle Ages, rich crimson and scarlet silks dyed with kermes in the new silk-weaving centers of Italy and Sicily exceeded the legendary Tyrian purple "in status and desirability"., and textiles dyed with kermes were described as dyed in the grain....
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