Nuances of the nochtli
Clark, Lauren. 2019. Nuances of the nochtli -- Lambda Alpha Journal, v.49, p.108-117
The domestication of insects in order to create dye for textiles, food, and cosmetics has been practiced all over the world for much of human history. For instance, the scale insect called kermes, native to coastal Mediterranean regions and parts of the Near East, was removed from the kermes oak tree to also provide a red dye, with evidence traced back as early as 300 BC (Donkin 1977). Additionally, other red dyes produced by the Polish cochineal of eastern Europe and the female lac insect of southern and southeastern Asia also have a deep history in the art of their respective culture (Donkin 1977). All these examples, though deeply rooted in their respective geographic region, have scant early archaeological evidence of organic dyed textiles and even less evidence of full-bodied insect remains. This assumption of poor archaeological data remains holds true in Mesoamerica and South America - both of which are areas that the cochineal beetle and its favored prickly pear host (Opuntiaficus-indica) currently call home.