Investigation of the mural paintings of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes and the dispatch of trainees

Joint investigation in Cave 285
The investigation team (in orange uniform) and trainees (in red uniform)

 The fifth phase of the Joint Research on the Conservation of the Mural Paintings of the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes is in its third year. Members of the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo were sent to Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes for four weeks from June 1 to conduct the first half of this year’s Japan-China joint research. Continuing from last year, optical investigation that has been conducted until now in Cave 285, which has an inscription (A.D. 538 and 539) of the West Wei period, was continued and the conditions of the entire mural painting were examined. The condition of deterioration and preservation of the materials used for mural paintings differ depending on various conditions such as color, technique and the location of the paintings. If we understand these conditions, the results of the optical investigation will reveal much more information, resulting in new ideas about investigation and analysis. In addition, if specific materials and techniques result in different states of deterioration, that will provide much insight into future conservation and restoration work.
 Furthermore, two graduate students with a master’s degree went to the Mogao Grottoes from Japan with this investigation team. They were selected from different fields of discipline – conservation science and paintings – as trainees dispatched to Dunhuang by public announcement that has been implemented from last fiscal year. They will stay in Dunhuang for five months until mid-October and receive guidance from specialists at the Conservation Institute of Dunhuang Academy concerning diverse matters related to the protection of mural paintings.

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