Conservation of Mural Paintings of the Ajanta Caves Research Project– Fourth Mission Report

High-definition photographing in the Ajanta 2nd Cave
High-definition photographing in the Ajanta 9th Cave

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conduct joint research on the conservation of the mural paintings of the Ajanta Caves, under the framework of “the Exchange Program of International Cooperation of Cultural Heritage” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the government subsidized budget for “the Cooperative Project for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in West Asia”, and aim to share the knowledge on conservation and exchange conservation techniques.
 The mural paintings of the Ajanta Caves have many problems – the leaking of water from cracks in the base rocks, biological damage, artificial damage, and discoloration caused by the past repair and the deterioration of colored layers. To solve these problems, it is necessary to understand the status of numerous mural paintings in detail and analyze them; however effective documentation techniques have not yet been established.
 Therefore, we have begun recording the status of mural paintings on high-definition photos using high-resolution digital cameras as the first attempt in the Ajanta Caves. In this fourth mission (from September 8 to October 2, 2010), we made high-definition photo recordings and color measurements of the mural paintings in the 2nd and 9th Caves jointly with the Indian specialists. The obtained data will be utilized as basic data in order to establish an appropriate mural painting conservation/restoration method, in cooperation with the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

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