Armenian Mummy Red Light Pigment

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A reddish brown pigment containing over 35% hematite. This hematite is from iron ore deposits in the Lori, Armenia.

Armenian Mummy Red Light is a reddish brown pigment containing over 35% hematite. This pigment is from iron ore deposits in the Lori, Armenia. Mummy is known among artists in Russia as "mummy" because it resembles the pigment highly prized by artists of the 18th and 19th centuries. The historical pigment was found in such organic matter as bitumen and asphaltum and was a fugitive color. It got its name from grisly rumors that the pigment was made by grinding Egyptian mummies. The mummy we make is not a mineral species but a natural mixture of kaolin, quartz, goethite, and hematite. The latter two minerals determine the color of mummy, while the remaining ingredients are inert substances that can vary the opacity or tinting strength of the pigment. The color of mummy can vary from yellow to red and finally to dark violet. The total content of goethite and hematite usually does not exceed 60% in mummy. The more hematite in relation to goethite, the redder the mummy. A more significant proportion of goethite strengthens the pigment in the yellow spectrum.

Origin and History

Egyptian mummies were available by the truckload at one time. Initially reserved for the upper classes, mummification eventually became popular with the proletariat; by modern times, mummies numbered in the millions. A single burial ground discovered not long ago is thought to contain 10,000. During medieval times, they were ground into powder and used as medicine. Later in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this powder was used as a paint pigment called "mummy brown" (also known as "Egyptian brown"), a practice that persisted, according to some sources, into the early 20th century. Ralph Mayer says its use was suddenly discontinued in the 19th century when the grisly composition became generally known to artists [The Artist's Handbook, p. 52]. A London colorman informed A. H. Church that he could satisfy the demands of his customers for twenty years from one Egyptian mummy [The Chemistry of Paints and Painting, p. 236]. Ground mummies made a pigment of an undefined organic composition due to the decomposition of mummies and the various resins that covered them. It was used primarily in watercolor and oil painting techniques. Mummy brown is a deep brown color, nearly intermediate in tint between burnt umber and raw umber. A pigment of this color was also prepared from bitumen or asphaltum. In Russia, the term "mummy" has been applied to mineral pigments that exhibit similar characteristics to this pigment. Since we derive our pigment from Russia, we have maintained the use of its name.


Our mummy pigments are not organic but consist entirely of natural minerals from deposits in the Lori province of Armenia. The various mummy pigments vary from transparent to opaque, with medium to good hiding power and medium to excellent tinting strength. The largest deposits of this iron-rich mineral are found in the Bechesyn-Bermamytskoye deposit on the Stavropol border and the Shilkinskoye deposit in the Chitinskaya province of Russia.

Permanence and Compatibility

Our mummy comprises iron oxide, calcium carbonate, kaolin, and silica, considered permanent and stable in mixtures with all other pigments. It is very good in oils and excellent in all aqueous mediums, such as egg tempera, casein, and gum arabic (watercolor). It performs well in wax (encaustic) and fresco techniques.

Oil Absorption and Grinding

See the table below for the oil absorption properties of mummy.


Mummy is not considered toxic, but care should be taken in handling the dry powder pigment to avoid inhaling the dust.

Pigment Information
Colour Index:Pigment Red 102 (77491)
Chemical Name:Iron Oxide
Chemical Formula:α-Fe2O3
Chemical Composition
ASTM Lightfastness Rating
Bulk Density:1.52 g/cm3
Oil Absorption:46 g/100 g
Particle Size:sub-0 to 15 microns: 80-85%
16 to 29 microns: 15-20%
30 microns and above: 0.1%
Residual (Mesh 325):<0.1%
Thermal Color Stability:<350 °C
More Information
BrandRublev Colours
VendorRublev Colours
Processing TimeUsually ships the next business day.
Pigment TypeInorganic, Earth, Natural

Health and Safety

There are no acute or known chronic health hazards with the anticipated use of this product. Protect yourself against potentially known hazards by keeping it out of your body. Do this by avoiding ingestion, excessive skin contact and inhalation of dusts. Conforms to ASTM D4236.

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Armenian Mummy Red Light Pigment
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