An optical study of Kasuga Gongen Genki E [“Legends of Kasuga Shrine”] in the collection of the Imperial Household Agency
Kasuga Gongen Genki E is a massive work from the dawn of the 14th century consisting of 20 scrolls in total featuring paintings by TAKASHINA Takakane, head of the court atelier, at the behest of SAIONJI Kinhira, Minister of the Left at the time. All of the scrolls have survived. The work is extremely valuable in terms of the history of Japanese paintings, and it features a style that is unrivaled in its elaborateness and resplendence. Currently curated by the Imperial Household Agency, the work is being completely disassembled and restored as a part of a 15-year plan that began in 2004. As part of joint research with the Imperial Household Agency, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has optically studied and photographed the work prior to restoration. As of last year, 12 scrolls of the 20 total scrolls had been studied.
This year, high-resolution digital photography of scroll 4 and scroll 15 was done with visible light, fluorescence, and 2 types of infrared waves (reflected and transmitted). Photography took place from December 3 to 6, 2012 and involved SHIRONO Seiji, KOBAYASHI Koji, and KOBAYASHI Tatsuro from the Institute’s Department of Art Research, Archives, and Information Systems. From December 10 to 20, HAYAKAWA Yasuhiro of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques used X-ray fluorescence of the 2 scrolls to collect data on paints.
Use of the reams of data that have been obtained thus far will be examined with the Imperial Household Agency once conservation and restoration are complete.