A compound derived from the madder plant, one of the first natural pigments to be used. It is the base for a range of shades of red, which is essential in creating more shades in combination with others. It has been used for more than two thousand years. It comes from the roots of the madder plant (rubia cordifolia, rubia tinctorum) which are crushed and the juice extracted (alizarin comes from the Arabic al usara, juice). This, through chemical processes, is mixed with a metallic salt or an acid and base compound in the form of white powder, resulting in a precipitation. It is called a lake’ form of dye. From this the dyer gets the typical red-crimson pigment. With the creation of a chemical substitute in 1868, alizarin was phased out. Known in India as majith, manjistha.