Jiang SiXu Tang 姜思序堂Jiang SiXu Workshop is the most prestigious natural mineral colour workshop in China, and a China “Time-Honoured Brand” providing the highest grade Chinese natural mineral colours for professionals for over 350 years.
Cinnabar Cinnabar or Vermillion is the naturally occurring mineral mercury sulphide (HgS). Inorganic mercury such as the mercury found in cinnabar is the least toxic form of mercury and has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine, ancient Roman makeup, Hindu Bindi forehead marking and Sindoor hair marking but should still be considered toxic and handled with care, especially in powder form. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention states:
Inorganic Mercury: When eaten in large amounts, some inorganic mercury compounds can be very irritating and corrosive to the digestive system. If repeatedly eaten or applied to the skin over long period of time, some inorganic mercury compounds can cause effects similar to what is seen with long term mercury vapor exposure, including neurological disturbances, memory problems, skin rash, and kidney abnormalities.
There is uncertainty about how poisonous cinnabar is and about the amount required to produce dangerous effects. Scientists generally recommend that we limit our exposure to all mercury compounds, however, including inorganic mercury.
People using cinnabar are warned not to inhale cinnabar dust and to be very careful when breaking the mineral in case dust is created. The mineral mustn’t be ingested or licked. In addition, it mustn’t be heated, which might trigger mercury vapor release. Opinions are divided about whether cinnabar is safe to touch. Mercury (ll) sulfide can be absorbed through the skin, but how much is actually absorbed from a lump of cinnabar mineral is unknown. Since there are unanswered questions about the mineral’s safety, it’s best to wear gloves when handling it.