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Dina: History of colour. Red (str. 1)

Dina: History of Colour. Red

by Katarzyna Janikowska & JOP



The Polish word describing the colour comes from the name of an insect


In the park in the Valley of Three Ponds in Katowice there is a footbridge featuring the Dina stay cables. The cables are in the colour of the colours: red. The Polish word describing the colour comes from the name of an insect that was used to produce the red dye and the same derivation has the Polish name of June — the pun that can not be translated into English.
I look at foreign worms floating in alcohol and feel sorry that our local scale insect ceased to be one of the unique export goods. Its trade value was not much smaller than the value of spirits. It also made consumers happy all over Europe, yet, in some other field, however...
As Antoni Mączak writes in a historical magazine, "in the 15th and 16th cc. one of the main export goods of Poland and Lithuania was — beside grains, wood and salt — Polish cochineal. The red larvae of that insect, parasiting on the plant called perennial knawel, were used to produce a crimson dye for textiles, so important and valuable. The economic importance of cochineal declined only after the discovery of America, which became to source of another crimson dye, cheaper and easier in use". In the same article the historian quotes some ethnographic oddities concerning our local insect and here comes my “however" a few verses above: at the beginning of the 20th c. in the village of Brody, close to the Russian-Austrian border, cochineal was still used to dye booze[1].

It might be an idea to renew local business and make it ecological. When I meet someone — an Engineer would be the best — who can invent an effective way to collect the red larvae of cochineal from perennial knawel, I will try to reclaim the distillery that used to be my family's business, design a label, a bottle and all the marketing mix to make our local insect as appreciated as a mezcal worm. In my dreams I can already see the festivals where everybody keeps fingers crossed for the larvae to succeed in feeding on the target plant and contribute to growing export of spirits from my distillery. And my company designs lots of calendars and all the calendars praise the product. Mmmm...

What car is the fastest? — A red one. I used to use that slogan talking about my Fiat Panda. Whatever the others used to say about it, I had a car in the proper sports colour. The one thing about red, the colour of the colours, is that there is no other colour that has so many meanings, often contradictory. On the other hand, it has always been popular. It has not had any ups and downs.
The mankind has used red dyes throughout human history. At the very beginning our ancestors covered caves and their bodies with ochre and iron oxides, yet, we know nothing about the then meaning of the red.



One of the most famous structures in red


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