Conservation of wall painting fragments in Tajikistan (12th mission)

Fragment prior to work
Fragment after work (cleaning & placement of small pieces in their original positions)
Backing attachment

 From October 9th to November 8th, a 12th mission was conducted on the Conservation of Wall Painting Fragments in the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan. This mission conserved wall paintings from the 11th-12th centuries unearthed at a site in Khulbuk in Southern Tajikistan. Wall paintings at the Khulbuk site are relics of the earliest Islamic art in Central Asia and are items of unmatched value. This conservation project was undertaken with a grant from the Sumitomo Foundation.
 Most of the wall painting fragments unearthed from the Khulbuk site are no thicker than 1 cm. Overall, the fragments are severely degraded and are so brittle that they cannot be handed. In light of the results of trial conservation work in 2009, the 12th mission enhanced the layers of color in 3 fragments, cleaned them, and attached a backing to them. The surface of the wall painting portion was sprayed several times with a solution of Funori – (glue made of seeweed), the layers of color were brought out to a certain intensity, and then the portion was cleaned. Afterwards, small, loose pieces that had broken off were placed back in their correct position. To protect the replaced pieces and stabilize the fragment as a whole, a backing was provided with triaxial woven fabric to readily conform to the contours of the back of the fragment.
 Subsequent missions will look into ways to clean other fragments, attach a backing to them, and mount them.

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