The exhibit had many objects on display and before they could be shown the red had to be tested to make sure it came from a cochineal bug.
The bug was found in the 1500's at an Aztec market by Spanish explorers. When crushed it looks like a pile of raisins. The bug when ground up produces a red juice that can be used in many ways. When used it is permanent and a pure red. Some of the uses were for the British soldiers' uniforms, a chair belonging to Napoleon, evening gowns, furniture paint, woven blankets and ponchos. The red from El Greco's painting, The Savior, came for the cochineal bug. Mexico exported the bug to Europe and it was rated as a second export after silver. It has been used in yogurt, candy, nail polish, and lipstick but the bug does need to be listed as an ingredient.
When I saw the artifacts from New Mexico and realized that they had been made during the time of my ancestors, I was fascinated. I wondered if they knew about this bug who gave out a red color. At the end of the exhibit there were some red robes with white fur collars and my daughter said, "Hey, let's make you a queen. With all that red it almost looks like an oil painting." She draped the robe around me and I held some red gloves. What fun goofing around with my daughter!