Dragon's-Blood

“Elephants have continual warre against Dragons, which desire their blood, because it is very cold: and therefore the Dragon lying awaite as the Elephant pas- seth by, windeth his taile, being of exceeding length, about the hinder legs of the Elephant, and when the Elephant waxeth faint, he falleth down on the serpent, being now full of blood, and with the poise of his body breaketh him: so that his owne blood with the blood of the Elephant runneth out of him mingled together, which being colde, is congealed into that substance which the Apothecaries call Sanguis Draconis, that is Dragons blood.”

As fantastical as this medieval tale is, in reality the colour is a blood red resin produced by the Rattan Palm.

Dragon’s blood was in use as a medicine and colourant since the ancient world, carried up the Red Sea in ships from Yemen having first been harvested from the islands that today make up Indonesia.

It was used to colour varnishes applied over gold to create a more ruddy effect, which was highly valued in the Middle Ages.