Cooperation in the Conservation of the Bamiyan Birch Bark Buddhist Manuscripts

Mr. Sawara at work
Mr. Hakim-Zada at work

 In the process of safeguarding the Bamiyan site, conducted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (Tokyo and Nara) since 2003, several hundred Buddhist manuscripts were discovered in stone caves. However, since the condition of these manuscripts was very poor, immediate conservation measures were necessary.
 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation invited Afghan conservation experts from the Kabul Museum as was done last year and jointly executed the conservation of these birch bark Buddhist manuscripts. Mr. Mohammad Sarwar Akbar and Mr. Hakim-Zada Abdullah stayed from November 14, 2008 to January 30, 2009. The deformed pieces were spread and mounted (secured on supporting body) for future exhibition. An observation of the surface of the Buddhist manuscripts made at the Institute with the cooperation of experts in conservation science revealed that there were some pieces to which a substance, most likely pattra (palmyra leaves), and pigments had adhered to the surface. All the 589 pieces were conserved and safely returned to the Kabul Museum in Afghanistan on January 30.
 Joint conservation with Afghans allowed us to cooperate in capacity building and transfer of techniques for Afghans who are engaged in the rehabilitation of cultural properties.

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