Materials & Techniques
Copal refers to the general term for a variety of hard, natural resins obtained directly from various tropical trees of the genera Hymenaea and Agathis. Copal is characterized as a hard, translucent odoriferous resinous substance in an intermediate stage of polymerization and hardening between gummy resins and amber. Copals contain communic acids, communol, resene, and volatile oil. They range in color from colorless to a bright yellow-brown. The term was first applied to the substance obtained from Mexico, but copal is now procured also from Brazil, the West Indies, West Africa, Mozambique and Zanzibar, Madagascar, India, Manila, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. Copal from East Africa is most highly valued, particularly the partially fossilized varieties. Copal is used as incense, flavoring, medicines, and in making varnish, lacquer, adhesive, and coatings.
Getty Vocabulary, AAT (copal: AAT: 300012910).