Cinnabar

It was akin to a death sentence.  Mined in the hills of Almadén, Spain, cinnabar (the mineral from which mercury is extracted) was one of the most deadly minerals to mine in history.  Discovered potentially either by the Greeks or the Persians, it was used by the Chinese to make red lacquerware products from cabinets and bowls to jewelry.  Wood would be carved and coated with a priming surface, then the crushed cinnabar would be applied and then sealed over with several layers.  In modern times, cinnabar has been replaced with resin to avoid any hazard.  But if you have antique cinnabar jewelry, um, don’t burn it-that would be bad.  Instead enjoy its’ beautiful deep red color.  

In the raw form:

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In lacquer:

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