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Tourists making memories via pottery rebirth, manga stamp experiences

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By May Masangkay

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Just for my own education, but what is "Bengal Red" and its place in traditional Japanese crafts? Everyone who knows basic Japanese wordworking will know "bengara", which is powdered iron oxide (rusty red or jet black). This is used, usually in combination with astringent persimmon juice (kakishibu) as a wood finish for darkening wood. Is "Bengal Red" the worldwide name for iron oxide as a pigment? A quick Google suggest Bengal red is simply the name of a colour, which depening on the seller be more like scarlet than rusty red. Basic kintsugi kits are on sale on Rakuten and yes, indeed, the pigment material they include is bengara, in both red and black forms.

My suspicion here is that bengara=Bengal Red is a bad translation which Japanese people are just repeating as if its the truth. The name "bengara" comes from kanji for red, its "kou" for kouyou (autumn leaves) and has another reading of "kurenai" (at least in the name of a hydrangea in our garden). I don't think the bengara name of the substance has anything to do with "Bengal" in India. Such associations should not be introduced by (bad) translators.

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