Quiz Answer Key and Fun Facts
1. Let's start with what is probably the most famous and expensive dye of antiquity - Tyrian purple. Tyrian Purple was so expensive that in one culture, its use was confined to the imperial family (giving us the phrase "born to the purple"). From what source is Tyrian Purple derived?
2. Everyone likes bright colors, and one of the most popular is a bright red known as "crimson." This was especially true during the 18th century, when bright uniforms were a key element of military operations (you had to see your troops). Crimson plumes and epaulets were used in a lot of armies as the mark of elite troops. Traditionally, crimson dye is obtained by mushing up what?
3. My daughter's fond of rainbows, and the mnemonic "ROY G. BIV" reminds her what colors go in them. The "I" in "BIV" stands for Indigo, a purplish-blue. Curiously enough, indigo dye is not a purplish-blue; it's the blue of blue jeans. Blue, however, was a prized color, as not many things produce blue dye. The blue dye indigo was produced by a plant, and vast areas were given over to its cultivation. What country traditionally produced the most indigo?
4. Last year, my brother married a Bengali woman, and as part of her wedding attire, her hands were decorated in elaborate patterns called mehndi. The reddish-brown patterns were executed by applying a paste containing a dye that's been used since the Bronze Age. Aside from mehndi, the dye's been used for clothes, hair, leather, and fingernails. What's the dye?
5. The world's most expensive spice is also used for dying cloth, which seems a bit strange until you learn that a little bit of it goes a long way. The color you get is a yellowish-orange, often seen in the robes of Buddhist monks. What's the spice (or dye)?
6. In 1861, at the beginning of the American Civil War, the Confederate States adopted the color "cadet gray" for their uniforms. By 1863, however, the Union blockade of the South's ports meant that many Confederates ended up wearing home-dyed uniforms. The dye, made from walnuts or acorns, started out gray, but faded to a tan or light brown. The nickname for this color was eventually extended to Confederate troops. What was it?
7. Curiously, the invention of the first artificial dye also required the invention of a color to describe it. What color did not exist before 1856, when Sir William Henry Perkin invented it?
8. Gentian Violet, in addition to being a dye, is also an antiseptic. Of course, if it's used as an antiseptic, it stains the affected area purple, which can be embarrassing (see "When Sisterhood was in Flower", by Florence King). In 2003, a zoo animal in Mendoza, Argentina, Pelusa, suffered this humiliation. What kind of animal is Pelusa?
9. When doing your laundry, you notice that your favorite white shirt is starting to look yellow and dingy. In your next load of whites, you add a product to address this problem. When the load's finished, everything appears much whiter. What you've actually done is to add just a teensy bit of what color dye to your wash?
10. In "I am the Model of a Modern Major-General," Gilbert and Sullivan's Major-General Stanley brags that he "...can tell you every detail of Caratacus' uniform." This isn't much of an achievement, because Caratacus supposedly fought naked, covered only by what traditional British dye? (The dye can also be seen in "Braveheart" on William Wallace.)
Source: Author Correspondguy
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