Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at “Textiles and Settlement: From the Plains Space to Cyber Space,” Textile Society of America 12th Biennial Symposium, Lincoln, Nebraska, October 6-9, 2010. Copyright 2010 Textile Society of America


Cochineal, with its origin in the Americas, by the 16th century was exported throughout the world. From the time of the Spanish encounter with the Americas in the late 15th and early 16th century, a dyestuff for a strong, fast, red color was in high demand. While many archival documents and scholarly writing exist on the use and shipment of cochineal throughout the world, and on its impact on the textile industry, this paper traces the pathway of its use through an examination of artworks in the Metropolitan Museum. Scientific analysis aids the study in the identification of cochineal (and other red dyes) used in selected objects and textiles from the Pre-Columbian era of South America to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.