Armenian bole

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The distinctive flame red is a striking feature of the mature style of Iznik pottery. It comes from an iron-rich red earth, or bole, found in Armenia.

Armenian bole, also known as bolus armenus or bole armoniac, is an earthy clay, usually red, native to Armenia. It is red due to the presence of iron oxide; the clay also contains hydrous silicates of aluminum and possibly magnesium.


Historically, it was used as an astringent, prescribed against diarrhea, dysentery, hemorrhage, etc. Externally, it was used in strengthening plasters, against dislocations of the joints. Physicians sometimes also called it Rubrica Synopica, from the city of Synope, where it is supposed to be found.

In the nineteenth century, it was incorporated into non-soluble tooth powder. These types of powders would get stuck between the gums and the teeth and leave an unsightly discoloration. As a result, they were coloured red using Armenian bole to disguise the buildup around the teeth.[1]

It is also used in bookbinding for coloring, or applied to the edges during gilding, as a base for the gold leaf and to give the binding a greater depth and luster. In pottery, it is used as a red pigment for the İznik pottery of Turkey. Finally, it has also been used in the waterproofing of windmill sails. A popular mixture was: 10 liters of water, combined with 0.75 liter linseed oil, 0.75 liter grease, and 1 kg of bolus.[2][3]

See also[edit]

  • Levant bole, a similar clay, often used in place of Armenian bole


  •  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChambers, Ephraim, ed. (1728). "article name needed". Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences (first ed.). James and John Knapton, et al.
  • "Armenian bole". Bookbinding and the Conservation of books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology. Archived from the original on 16 January 2006. Retrieved 2006-01-22.
  1. ^ Martha E. Foulk and Elizabeth Pickering, "A History of Dentrifices," Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association, 24 no. 11 (1935), 975.
  2. ^ Werken met molens by Werkgroep West-Vlaamse Molens v.z.w.
  3. ^ Bolus used for windmill sail