The color red describes places it has appeared in different books, stating: “I’ve been everywhere and I am everywhere.” It knows the reader will wonder what it means to be a color and it answers poetically, adding that it is fortunate to be “fiery” and “strong.” It explains that it came to exist when a master miniaturist crushed dried red beetles and turned the pigment into paint while drinking coffee. It recalls once hearing two blind masters discussing how they would explain the color red to someone who had never seen it; one master said that red would burn to the touch, would taste like meat, and would smell like daisies. However, the miniaturists concluded that red cannot truly be explained to someone who cannot see.
Immediately it is clear that this short and abstract chapter is important, as it shares the same title as the novel overall. Through the perspective of red specifically, the chapter explores the magical nature of art and vision. As the color red argues, visual phenomena—particularly phenomena as pure and simple as colors—cannot be explained to those who cannot see. They exist in their own plane of meaning, and the masters who have gone blind realize that this meaning is inaccessible to those who cannot experience it firsthand.