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Cultures in Motion$
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Daniel T. Rodgers, Bhavani Raman, and Helmut Reimitz

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159096

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159096.001.0001

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Knowledge in Motion

Knowledge in Motion

Following Itineraries of Matter in the Early Modern World

(p.109) Chapter 4 Knowledge in Motion
Cultures in Motion

Pamela H. Smith

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on “itineraries of matter,” or objects as traveling carriers of cultural practices and meanings, in the early modern world. It examines the role of red in the transmission of knowledge back and forth among European vernacular practitioners and text-oriented scholars in their production and reproduction of knowledge about natural things. To this end, the chapter takes us to the heat and dangers of vermillion production in early modern Europe: the hours of firing, stirring, stoking, hammering, chemical manipulation, and anxious waiting that produced the red pigments highly valued by painters and illuminators to bring blood to life. Vermillion production was dangerous and exacting, and yet its underlying techniques traveled rapidly across early modern Europe (and beyond) together with the webs of interlinked homologies—an entourage of lizards, blood, gold, alchemical formulas, and vernacular knowledge—which formed the foundations of early modern science.

Keywords:   matter, cultural practices, knowledge transmission, vermillion, early modern Europe, red pigments, blood, lizards, gold, science

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