Conservation of Wall Paintings of the Ajanta Caves Research Project – Fifth Mission Report

Condition Assesment of wall paintings (right shrine of Ajanta Cave 2)
Cleaning trial of black accretion (right wall of right shrine of Ajanta Cave 2)

 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conduct joint research on the conservation of the wall 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. We aim to share knowledge on conservation and exchange conservation techniques that are necessary for this project.
 The wall 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 past treatments and the deterioration of colored layers. Noticeable things among these problems are the blackened and whitened bat excrement and the yellowed and darkened varnish (shellac, PVAC) coated on the surfaces of wall paintings. We have currently not yet discovered any effective methods that would lead to assured conservation. To overcome these problems, we conducted cleaning treat of the wall paintings of Cave 2 during this fifth mission (from November 14th to December 4th, 2010). Utilizing the scientific analyses and documented data accumulated up until last year, we examined appropriate conservation methods together with the Indian conservation specialists.

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