Analysis of the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o and the Painting of Fugen Bosatsu (owned by the Tokyo National Museum) by X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the Tokyo National Museum (TNM) have jointly conducted an optical analysis of Buddhist artworks owned by TNM. As part of this collaborative research, we conducted an analysis of coloring materials by employing X-ray fluorescence spectrometry for the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o (Skt: Mahamayurividyarajni) and the Painting of Fugen Bosatsu (Skt: Samantabhadra) for two days from August 2 to 3, 2017. The two pieces of artwork are paintings on silk drawn in the Heian period (12th century) and designated as a National Treasure. Through X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, the types and quantities of elements that constitute matter can be identified in a non-destructive and non-contact manner. In recent years, in particular, high-performance portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometers have become widespread, and highly accurate data have become safely obtainable. The types of pigments or the compositions of metals, such as gold and silver, can be identified by the analysis of paintings, such as these two artworks. Through this collaborative research, we have obtained high-definition color, fluorescent, and infrared images of five Buddhist paintings drawn in the Heian period so far, including the two pieces for this analysis. Using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, we have studied these images in detail and examined the colors and descriptions used in the artworks comprehensively. Although a great deal of research has been conducted on the Painting of Kujaku-myo-o and the Painting of Fugen Bosatsu from the perspective of art history, with this spectrometric technique, yet-to-be-discovered facts are expected to be uncovered. In addition, given the fact that experts from more than one realm ranging from art history to analytical chemistry and image formation have taken part in this collaborative research, there are likely to be new developments in the research of Buddhist paintings in the Heian period through cross-sectoral analysis and studies. For this reason, we will continue to promote cooperation among researchers in conducting research and moving ahead with the analysis of other Buddhist paintings in the same era as well.