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Red/Red (Untitled) Diptych 3

  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Title (object)

    • Red/Red (Untitled) Diptych 3
  • Description

    Floral forms painted in red cochineal and Turkish red on worn-out and restored papers, part of a diptych.

  • Producer name

  • School/style

  • Date

    • 2009
  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Width: 70 centimetres
    • Height: 100 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Information from the artist:

    Red / Red (2015) narrates the story of and through one colour—red. The red used in the project is a specific pigment traditionally made from an insect known as “Ararat” or “Armenian Cochineal” [Porphyrophora Hamelii], indigenous to the Ararat Plain. In her paintings she paints this loss via a transition from a deep carmine pigment to another red pigment, the brighter one of the Turkish flag, common in Turkey. While the latter endures, the former is doomed to vanish. Red / Red proposes a model of co-existence for inhabitants of this contested geographic region through an ecosystem that fosters the production of this special colour.

    Armenian cochineal is an insect that lives in the roots of the Aeluropus littoralis plant that grows on the banks of the Aras River, which marks the natural border between Turkey and Armenia. The carminic acid found in the Armenian cochineal enables the production of a special red that has been known back to the 7th century BC. This red was used in textiles, frescos and manuscripts and produced mostly by Armenians.

    Aeluropus littoralis and Armenian cochineal have been categorised as endangered species since the industrialization in 1970s’ USSR Armenia. On the Turkish side, there is no threat to the growing areas of the plant and the insect, but the knowledge of producing the red colour is lacking since 1915.

    Armen Sahakyan, PhD, a phytotherapist and senior researcher at the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan is probably the only person who can still extract this red based on the recipes from the 14th century Armenian manuscripts. The drawings have been created with the Armenian cochineal ink given to the artist by Sahakyan.


  • Location

    Not on display

  • Associated places

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Middle East

  • Registration number


  • Joined objects

Drawings with Armenian cochineal ink and Turkish red on worn-out and restored papers, 2 pieces.

Drawings with Armenian cochineal ink and Turkish red on worn-out and restored papers, 2 pieces.

Reproduced by permission of the artist. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Image description



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Object reference number: RFM53255

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