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the strange uses of Ox Gall



I have often wondered- "how in hell did someone come up with this stuff to
float colors in paper marbling?"  I searched through many old artists manuals
and found a curious reference in an (probably spurious but informative)
appendix to Qadi Ahmed's Gulistan-i Huner , (translated by V. Minrosky as
Calligrapher's and Painters Smithsonian Freer Gallery of Art Occaisional
Papers, 1959.  The text was originally dated 1596, but this appendix was felt
by Minorsky to be much later) that says on page 200 in reference to making
ink "If you wish that flies should not sit on it, put some cow gall in the
ink holder".  This is the only early historic reference to using Gall in
paint ASIDE from marbling, that I've come across.

Anyone else know of other uses?  One medical historian told me that it was
used by surgeons to wash their hands in the 19th century.  I did come across
an old bottle of Parke Davis Ox Gall in the Felix Pereira (Doebblin's
student) collection of marbling tools at the North Bennet Street School.

Jake Benson


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