Dagmar Wujastyk
Seed lac from a peepal tree

Making gems. Part one: fish black


We’re back! Just for a one-off mini-series, though. Probably.


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Gold imitation with chalcopyrite

We have come to the final experiment of this series!

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Aurifiction revisited

We are nearing the end of this series of experiments. But before we wrap up with one last recipe, we want to revisit one we did before: A recipe for imitating gold from the Rasaprakāśasudhākara.

This is the recipe:


ताम्रे सप्तगुणं नागं‌ वाहितं पुनरेव हि /

तेन ताम्रेण रसकं सप्तवारं च वाहयेत् // ५४ //

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Out of all the recipes we chose, this one probably had us scratching our heads the most: The Rasaprakāśasudhākara’s second recipe for making silver. It features uncertain, and exotic materials, and an unusual method.


खण्डं कर्षप्रमाणं हि सुमलक्षारकस्य हि

वेष्टितं नरकेशेन द्रुते नागे निमज्जितम् //७४//

निर्वापितं निम्बुजले चैकविंशतिवारकम्

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Argentifaction – Making silver

When Andrew and I selected recipes for this series of experiments, we favoured recipes that appeared simple. Method 14 for making silver made the cut because it was short and featured only a few ingredients: copper, brass, bronze, arsenic sulfide, and silver. Nothing too fancy.

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The eleventh chapter of the Rasaprakāśasudhākara contains 20 recipes for making gold, improving the quality of gold, or imitating gold. The recipe of our current experiment is for making copper the colour of gold. Aurifiction, not aurifaction.


The formula is deceptively simple.


ताम्रे सप्तगुणं नागं‌ वाहितं पुनरेव हि /

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Pearls from fish eyes


Well, this one is not exactly a charmer. It is, however, fairly straightforward:

You make “pearls” out of fish eyes.


Here is the recipe:





नेत्राण्याहृत्य मत्स्यानां पक्त्वा दुग्धेन यामकम् /

पश्चादाकृष्णकणकानाकृष्य किल कण्डयेत् //

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With the colour and texture of our first batch of artificial coral not quite right, we embarked on a second (and actually also third) round of experiments. Here’s a quick reminder of the recipe from the Rasaprakāśasudhākara (chapter 11, verses 138-140)


Having carefully ground purified conch shell into a fine powder,

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New series!

Reconstructing Indian alchemy: Making coral

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We have arrived at the eighth, and for us, final procedure! This step is called the stimulating or kindling (dīpana) of mercury. And here is what the text (Rasahṛdayatantra, chapter 2, verse 11) tells us about this step:

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