Joint Research on Kokuzo Bosatsu (Akashagarbha Bodhisattva) and Senju Kannon (Sahasrabhuja Avalokitesvara) (owned by the Tokyo National Museum)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and the Tokyo National Museum (TNM) have jointly conducted optical research on Buddhist paintings in TNM’s collection. As part of this joint research, high-resolution photography with image dividing technique and analyses of coloring materials using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry were conducted on paintings of Kokuzo Bosatsu (Akashagarbha Bodhisattva) and Senju Kannon (Sahasrabhuja Avalokitesvara) from May 22nd to 23rd, 2018. These Buddhist paintings, which are representative of the later part of the Heian period, were produced with a particularly sophisticated aesthetic sense and a highly developed painting technique; the delicate and elegant depiction of their subjects is their most significant feature. Through this joint research on Buddhist paintings of the Heian period, high-definition color, near-infrared, and fluorescent images have been obtained. A comprehensive analysis of coloring materials using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry was carried out for the essential parts of the painting such as the subjects’ faces, bodies, clothes, accessories, belongings, and halos, as well as the canopies and backgrounds. The results of this analysis are not only beneficial for the understanding of each artwork but are important indicators for Japanese art history. After this, we will conduct further research, examine our results, and proceed to publish them as research materials.