The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is engaged in the conservation project for the wall paintings of the Kitora Tumulus, a Special Historic Site. This is a project that has been entrusted to the Institute from the Agency for Cultural Affairs. In this project, the inside of the stone chamber is inspected regularly to protect the wall paintings from microorganisms and the wall paintings on the plaster are being detached from the stone walls.
At the Kitora Tumulus, paintings of the four guardian gods of directions and the twelve horary signs on the side walls have already been detached; only the ceiling and the painting of the constellations remain at the site. In July a part of the painting of the constellations had fallen and was found on the floor. Investigations that followed revealed that there are several tens of places where the risk of exfoliation is high. Thus, the painting is in a very serious condition. So the Institute has started to detach the paintings from places where there is great danger of its becoming falling.
Exhibition of the wall paintings of the Kitora Tumulus in the lobby of the Institute: on the detachment of the paintings and restoration work
An exhibition concerning the detachment and restoration of the wall paintings of the Kitora Tumulus, a Special Historic Site, is being held in the lobby of the Institute. There are panels with photographs and illustrations that provide information about the Kitora Tumulus itself and the conservation project. In particular, explanation is given, in order, of the entire process of the conservation of the wall paintings, from their detachment from the site to treatments given in preparation for a special exhibit. In addition, samples of plaster made in order to select tools for use in detaching the wall paintings and the tools themselves are exhibited.
The 3rd International Steering Committee Meeting of the “Preservation of the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, Tajikisitan” funded by UNESCO/Japanese Funds -in-Trust was held on 28 August. The project aims at preserving the Buddhist Monastery of Ajina Tepa, a building complex of earthen structures constructed with pisé or bricks. The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has participated in this project since 2005 and conducted archaeological investigation, such as sounding for identification of the extent of the site, and cleaning of debris at the site.
In several expert meetings and the International Steering Committee Meeting the future direction of the project was discussed, based on the working activities conducted so far and the present state of the site. Several points for improvement regarding the preservation of the earthen wall were pointed out and will be examined further. Installation of a shelter for the protection of a stupa was abandoned and covering the stupa with mud plaster was debated instead. Tajikistan authorities expressed their appreciation for activities conducted by Japanese experts and requested the continuation of the work. In response to this request, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation hopes to cooperate in the archaeological work that should be carried out prior to the preservation of the site.
Preliminary condition survey of mural painting pieces which are currently stored at the National Museum of Antiquities, Tajikistan took place between 23rd and 30th August in a framework of the “Cooperation Project for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in West Asia.” In Tajikistan, most of the conservation activities were initiated by Russian conservators until 1991. However, since the dissolution of USSR, major issues of Tajikistan’s conservation have been related to lack of human and monetary resources for research and conservation. Furthermore, since most of the conservation methods and techniques are based on those of the Russians, which are not up to the current methods in conservation, urgent technical support from foreign countries such as Japan and Europe is required.
The National Museum of Antiquities, Tajikistan owns outstanding mural paintings from Penjikent, Shafristan and other sites depicted by Sogdians who are known as active merchants of the 6-8th centuries AD. In its storages, some hundreds of detached paintings from archaeological sites have been piled and left for over 40 years without any proper treatment. Especially after USSR’s dissolution, all excavated/detached pieces have been left untreated within Tajikistan. These detached paintings reflect an ethical issue, above all, against such thoughtless measure of ‘detachment’ from their original locations as well as technical issues such as the darkening of synthetic polymers that were used as consolidants in the past.
In order to protect and preserve such important murals, urgent support is required in the training of local conservators with expertises in the field of conservation.
A great number of mural paintings remain at the Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes. However, those that can be observed today with the naked eye have deteriorated significantly due to the passage of time. Compared with their condition at the time of their creation more than one thousand years ago, these paintings have changed greatly – colors have changed or faded and pigments have become detached and lost. Conservation of these paintings involves the elucidation of the mechanism of their deterioration and the treatment of the paintings to prevent further deterioration. Determining the original methods and materials as well as the factors that led to their present condition is essential in considering the method of their conservation. At the same time, it is also quite important in reviving the value of the paintings. Only when both are fulfilled can it be said that cultural property is truly protected. In the Japan-China joint research project, comprehensive study of these paintings is conducted. This includes observation by normal light, raking light, infrared ray and ultraviolet fluorescence photography; detailed non-destructive analysis using digital microscope, portable x-ray fluorescence and Raman spectroscope; detailed analysis of the techniques and materials as well as the condition of deterioration by micro-sampling; and detailed observation of the condition of deterioration by conservation specialists. Through such a study, the use of a great amount of organic coloring materials and the special condition of the deterioration of the mural paintings of Cave 285 (first half of the 6th century), which were not known until now, are beginning to be clarified. Moreover, radioactive carbon (14C) dating of the stone chamber and provenance study of the lead-based pigment by lead isotope ratio analysis are conducted in an attempt to do research with a large area of the Silk Road in view.
As part of its “Research on Materials for the Study of East Asian Art” project, the Art Research Materials Section of the Department of Research Programming is conducting basic study of Sotan (1413-1481), the official painter of the Ashikaga shogun family during the Muromachi period. Last fiscal year, we first made a comprehensive collection of materials related to Sotan which we compiled into an archive that will serve as the foundation for our study. In executing this work, we used the method of the pre-World War II ”Corps of East Asian Arts” project that produced comprehensive results concerning some painters of the Muromachi period as reference. In the process of this work we were able not only to confirm what may be called the “universal usefulness” of the method of ”Corps of East Asian Arts” for the purpose of forming a foundation for research but also to confirm the fact that the various kinds of archives related to art history which were formed intermittently from before the war and continue to be formed from time to time even now and which are found at the Institute are still effective today.
This year by studying each material in detail and by making a general judgment of the collected materials, we are improving the quality of the materials so that we may achieve a closer and more accurate understanding of Sotan. The process of this phase of the project was presented at the 2nd In-House Research Seminar (July 10, “Study of Sotan” by Watada). Many parts of this presentation delved into more details when compared with the content of the public lecture given on October 28, 2006 (“Sesshu and Sotan” by Watada). We plan to publish the results of our study in The Bijutsu Kenkyu (The Journal of Art Studies).
“Kuroda Seiki: Master of Western-style Paintings of Modern Japan,” the regional exhibition for this fiscal year, began on July 21 at The Hiratsuka Museum of Art in Kanagawa prefecture and will continue until September 2. It is the Shonan district where this Museum is located that Kuroda frequently visited after his return from France and until his last years. It is also a place that played an important role in his creative activities. As is well known, after his return from his studies abroad, Kuroda influenced the art world by painting works that actively incorporated new plein air expressions. Some of such works were created at places near Hiratsuka, such as Oiso and Kamakura. For this reason also, this exhibition aims not only to introduce the art of Kuroda in general but also to provide an opportunity to allow many people to see the relationship between Kuroda and the Shonan district, by exhibiting “Rocks by the Water’s Edge” (1896) the subject of which is the Shonan district.
Study of the Kishu Tokugawa family collection of musical instruments owned by the National Museum of Japanese History
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage started a joint research with the National Museum of Japanese History on the Kishu Tokugawa family collection of musical instruments that the Museum owns. These instruments, mainly ones used in gagaku, were collected by Harutomi, 10th Lord of the Kishu Tokugawa family. The Museum owns more than 157 instruments, many scores and related documents, and published an illustrated catalogue of these materials in 2004. Based on this catalogue we plan to conduct a more detailed study with experts on traditional Japanese musical instruments. The study of wind instruments that began from July has revealed the possibility that the nokan, or the transverse flute used in noh, called “Gasho” is the “Kokyo no Nishiki” mentioned in Meikanroku, a list submitted to the Tokugawa shogunate in the late 18th century of famous transverse flutes.
The Seminar Course for Museum Curators that was started in 1984 is held annually to provide curators with basic knowledge of and techniques for conservation. This year, the 24th Seminar Course was held from July 9 to 20 with thirty-two curators from Japan participating.
The Seminar Course consists of lectures and practical work. Lectures were given on such topics as the museum environment (including temperature and humidity as well as pest control), deterioration of various types of cultural properties and its prevention. In the practical work, the participants learned about various methods of analysis using apparatuses and applied what they learned in a practical case study held at the Yokohama History Museum. Also this year, the participants heard a lecture on the conservation of materials and visited exhibition rooms and restoration studios at the Tokyo National Museum.
Because many of the lectures in this course are natural scientific in nature, some of the contents may have been confusing for the participants, many of whom specialize in the humanities. However, every year we try our best to make the content as easy to understand as possible. Moreover, the sense of unity that develops among the participants who spend two weeks together in the same room is strong, and they continue to exchange information even after the Seminar Course by using a mailing list that they form during the two weeks. In this way, they contribute greatly toward improving the conservation environment of their respective museums.
The mushi meishi, or insect business cards, that were introduced by Tom Strang of the Canadian Conservation Institute （CCI）and Kigawa Rika of this Institute during the IPM Workshop 2004 which the two institutions held have been published as pest cards. The cards of 33 major types of museum pests based on Cyclopedia of Museum Insects provide information about the degree of damage they cause, their appearance and actual size, and the kinds of materials they damage. The cards come as printed sheets that can be detached for storage and there is space on the reverse side for notes. They are conveniently portable and we hope that they will be utilized on site at museums and other related facilities. We wish to express our deep gratitude to Dr. Yamano Katsuji, our visiting researcher, for his advice and cooperation in preparing these cards.
“Museum Pest Cards” are available at Kuba Pro Co. Ltd. (tel. 03-3238-1689) for 600.
On-site Investigation for The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas
In The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas Japanese art objects in collections at museums overseas are temporarily brought back to Japan, restored and returned to their respective owners. By restoring such objects it becomes possible to increase opportunities for their exhibition and utilization and thereby deepen understanding about Japanese culture. In addition, the project provides an opportunity for people overseas to understand the Japanese conservation methods and policies.
Researchers visited Italy (2 museums: Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale and Museo d’Arte Orientale “Edoardo Chiosonne”) and England (2 museums: Victoria and Albert Museum and Ashmolean Museum) from July 3 to 14 to select candidate paintings. Investigation was made from such aspects as art history and restoration techniques and materials. As for craft work, Takeuchi Namiko and Inokuma Kaneki, associate curators of the Tokyo National Museum, joined researchers from the Institute to conduct investigation in England ((2 museums: Victoria and Albert Museum and Ashmolean Museum) and the Czech Republic (1 museum and 3 castles: Moravian Gallery, Velké Mezirící, Vranov nad Dyjf and Lednice Castle). From these investigations, a list was made of objects that will be restored in Japan and of those that may be restored at Cologne. These objects will be restored in future projects so that they may be exhibited again.
The 16th Technical Committee of the International Co-ordinating Committee for the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC)
The 16th Technical Committee of the ICC was held at Siem Reap, Cambodia on July 5 and 6. This meeting serves as an opportunity for various organizations involved in the protection of the Angkor monuments to present reports on their work. The Institute presented the results of studies to identify the microorganisms growing on the stones of Ta Nei site and to discuss the difference in the percentage of the uncovered sky (crown density) and the amount of microorganisms on the walls.
One of the themes discussed at this meeting was “sustainable development.” As the number of tourists from outside Cambodia exceeded 670,000 in 2005, appropriate procurement of tour routes and facilities is an issue to be considered not only for the protection of the sites but also for the safety of the tourists. Pollution of the Siem Reap River due to the lack of a proper sewage system and disposal of garbage has been reported. These are problems that arise when too much attention is given only to tourism, and the indispensability of international cooperation from nations that have much experience in this field was felt.
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been conducting the “Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site” project with the Ministry of Information and Culture of Afghanistan since 2003. This year, the 8th mission of this project was dispatched from June 9 to July 15. In this mission, joint researches with other organizations were conducted in addition to the conservation of mural paintings and archaeological investigation.
For the conservation of mural paintings, previously executed work was continued at Caves I and N(a). At Cave I, mural paintings at risk of becoming detached were reinforced with grouting and edging. Conservation intervention on the mural paintings at Cave I was successfully completed with this mission. At Cave N(a), the mural paintings were reinforced in preparation for the removal of the soot-like black deposits on the surface of the mural paintings that is scheduled to be executed in the next mission.
For archaeological investigation, soundings and survey were conducted in order to determine the extent of the sites requiring protection. Archaeological soundings were carried out at several places of the Bamiyan Valley and a wall possibly dating back to the Buddhist period was found at one of soundings. Surrounding valleys of Bamiyan were surveyed in an attempt to locate unknown sites, and several tombs and castles were revealed These archaeological surveys are important in understanding the Bamiyan sites, of which the Buddhist period tends to attract most attention, in the light of history that continues to the present.
Joint researches were conducted with Kanazawa University, Oyo Corporation and Pasco Corporation on the study of Islamic ceramics, geological investigation and measurement of the caves, respectively. These collaborative researches will be continued and are expected to provide necessary and indispensable information and viewpoints for the protection of the Bamiyan Sites.
On Friday, July 22 four members of the staff of the Shanghai Museum visited the Institute. They were in Japan to conduct investigation in relation to the establishment of new laboratories at the Shanghai Museum. After meeting with the Director General, they were led on a tour of the various laboratories within the Institute by him.
The National Research Institutes for Cultural Properties in Tokyo and Nara conduct self-evaluation of their work based on their 5-year plan and annual plan. The results of this self-evaluation are reflected on their projects to improve the administration of both Institutes. Self-evaluation for the fiscal year 2006 was recently completed and its report is being printed now.
The number of items related to research and projects in 2006 totaled 89: 1 for improving managerial efficiency, 40 for the Institute in Tokyo and 48 for the Institute in Nara. This number is less than that in the previous year since in this period of the 5-year plan research and projects from previous fiscal years were reconsidered, adjusted and integrated. As usual, each of the Departments and Centers of both Institutes prepared its record of performance and self-evaluation form. On May 17 and 24, the Evaluation Committee studied these and presented their comments. From this year all the Departments and Centers at the Institutes presented reports of all their projects to the Committee. Moreover, rather than evaluating project by project, the Committee was asked to present a comprehensive evaluation of the activities of the Institutes as a whole along a list of pre-established evaluation items. Taking into account the evaluation and comments made by the Committee, a summation of the self-evaluation was made. It was confirmed that all the projects had proceeded well and that the initial aims of the projects had been achieved. As for future issues, it was decided that there is a need to actively incorporate funds from outside sources, install large research apparatuses and improve our facilities.
The gist of the results of self-evaluation was reported to the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
(○ = architectures △ = those fine arts and craftworks indicated in red
Red and green lines indicate positions of inland active fault.)
(from presentation material for “Construction of GIS Database of Cultural Properties and Earthquake Hazard Assessment” by FUTAGAMI Yoko)
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo holds in-house research seminars. During these seminars, researchers of the Departments and Centers in the Institute present the results of their research projects along topics they themselves have established, and all the researchers in the Institute are given opportunities to freely discuss their thoughts.
The first In-house Research Seminar was held on Tuesday, June 5. Futagami Yoko of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation presented her project entitled “Construction of GIS Database of Cultural Properties and Earthquake Hazard Assessment” in which she discussed the importance of using GIS as disaster prevention measures for cultural properties.
The schedule for forthcoming seminars is as follows:
2nd Seminar July 10, 2007
“Study of Sotan”
(WATADA Minoru, Department of Research Programming)
3rd Seminar Oct. 2, 2007
“Development of New X-ray Detectors for Cultural Properties”(tentative title)
(INUZAKA Masahide, Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques)
4th Seminar Dec. 4, 2007
“Shelters for Buddha Images Carved on Rock Surfaces”(tentative title)
(MORII Masayuki, Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques)
5th Seminar Jan. 8, 2008
“A Study on the Iconography of Buddhist Art”(tentative title)
(KATSUKI Gen’ichiro, Department of Research Programming)
6th Seminar Feb. 12, 2008
“Ningyo Joruri Bunraku”(tentative title)
(KAMAKURA Keiko, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage)
7th Seminar Mar. 4, 2008
(MIURA Sadatoshi, Deputy Director General)
(Dates and contents are subject to change)
As a part of the Cross-Disciplinary Study of Art Materials and Techniques, a research project being undertaken by the Department of Research Programming, a hollow dry lacquer Figure of a Standing Bodhisattva (private collection in Tokyo) was investigated on Thursday, June 21. In hollow dry lacquer technique used for a Buddha statue, a clay mold is first made. Then hemp cloth is pasted to the surface of the mold after which the clay is removed from the mold to make a hollow. Finally an over-layering of lacquer stiffened with plant fibers is applied to the surface of the hemp cloth. As is already known, the manufacture of Buddha statues using this technique was popular in Japan during the Tempyo period (8th century), but there are very few existing examples today. In such a circumstance, this Bodhisattva figure is an example whose existence was not known until recently Although there are traces of gold foil applied with lacquer on its surface, which is thought to have been done after the figure was made, and traces of repair on damaged parts, the condition of its preservation is comparatively good. It is also to be noted that the figure has been transmitted in an almost complete form. From the expression of the precious chignon and the form of the face, it appears that the figure was manufactured either at the end of the 8th century or the beginning of the 9th century. However, as is the case with the investigation of hollow dry lacquer figures, it is true that a visual observation of the surface does not provide enough information as to how many layers of hemp cloth had been applied or to what degree restoration and later additions had been made. We hope to conduct X-ray photography of this figure, with the permission of the owner, in order to study the materials and techniques used so that we may better understand it.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage is engaged in studies related to the conservation and utilization of intangible folk cultural properties of Japan. As an example of research associated with the actual transmission of folk performing arts and their performances, an on-site investigation was made into the activities of kagura Monzen Toji Mura at Midoricho, Akitakata-shi, Hiroshima prefecture. Midoricho (formerly Midoricho, Takata-gun, Hiroshima prefecture) is known for geihoku kagura, a type of kagura that has been transmitted in the northwestern area of Hiroshima prefecture. Presently there are 13 kagura troupes that are active, and some of their repertories and groups are designated intangible folk cultural properties of Hiroshima prefecture. However, the reason that this type of kagura is well known today is because the repertories called shinmai, which was created after the War and which incorporates new tastes, has become firmly established among the people of the area as a form of entertainment. kagura Monzen Toji Mura is a facility for relaxation and entertainment that was opened to the public at Midoricho in 1998. This and the kagura Dome, a theater especially for kagura with a capacity of 3000 people, function as symbols for the popularity of this new type of kagura.
At kagura Dome regular performances are held every Sunday and on national holidays by kagura troupes of Midoricho. In addition, on Saturdays open rehearsals are held at Kamukura Theater, an indoor stage attached to the facility as are various kinds of kagura competitions, such as the Hiroshima kagura Grand Prix. These performances are attended by people from not only Hiroshima but also other prefectures. Moreover, since the theater is opened to the public as a place that can be used regularly for the practice of kagura and since opportunities for performances are guaranteed throughout the year, for the kagura troupes of Midoricho it serves as a site for transmitting kagura. Since many of the audience are residents of neighboring districts, it may be said that this is a facility that is firmly rooted in the area.
Although kagura of this nature, the purpose of which performance is entertainment, may be thought to be rather new, it has been reported that kagura and bon-odori competitions have been held in areas around Hiroshima prefecture from before the War. The oldest competition that is still being held today dates to 1947 and has a history of over 50 years. In addition to popular shinmai, competitions are also held in the skills of kyumai, the traditional repertories. Thus the fact that these events support the transmission and vitalization of traditional repertories cannot be overlooked. The popularity of “kagura as entertainment” as found in Midoricho is spreading to neighboring Shimane and Okayama prefectures today.
Of course, some issues have been pointed out for consideration, such as economic stabilization, apprehension concerning changes in the nature of kagura and the question as to whether major performing groups should be limited to kagura troupes of Midoricho or not. However, it is also a fact that such a phenomenon is effective in the transmission of culture and the formation of the identity of a given area. It may be said that this phenomenon is a very interesting example of the transmission of folk performing arts in today’s world.
With the dismantling and transporting of the first stone of the west wall on which is drawn a painting known as “Group of Male Figures” to the Temporary Restoration Facility on June 26, the dismantling of the stone chamber of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus that started in April 2007 has been completed with the exception of the floor stone. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is engaged in the work of conserving the wall paintings of Takamatsuzuka Tumulus, including the restoration of the paintings, biological investigation and environmental control.
The following sections of the stone chamber were dismantled and transported (in order): June 7th – the second stone of the east wall (Seiryu, the blue dragon); 14th – the second stone of the west wall (Byakko, the white tiger); 15th – south wall; 22nd – the first stone of the east wall (Group of Male Figures); and 26th – the first stone of the west wall (Group of Male Figures). The restoration team removed the plaster that covered the spaces between the stones and applied synthetic paper to the surface of the paintings in order to transport them safely. Materials needed as well as the timing for doing this work was carefully considered so as to reduce the risk of fungal growth. Moreover, every time a stone was taken out, the biology team investigated the microorganisms within the tumulus. As the stone chamber was dismantled piece by piece the environment team covered what was still left of the chamber with insulation in order to keep the humidity around the paintings stable.
Stones taken into the Temporary Restoration Facility will undergo photographing, sampling and cleaning. They will then be taken into the restoration workroom. After the facing on the surface is removed, the condition of the wall paintings will be observed and recorded in order to collect information necessary for the restoration of the wall paintings which will be conducted over a long period of time.
The investigation team that was dispatched last year conducted basic investigation of the Prambanan Temple Compounds, a World Heritage, which was destroyed by the earthquake that shook the Island of Java on May 27, 2006. The investigation included a survey of the condition of damage, history of restoration, ground property, vibration character of the structures and other issues. At a meeting of experts that was held at the site on June 29 and 30, 2007 the results of investigation, including that of the foundation and structures conducted by the Indonesian side, were discussed comprehensively. Based on this, fundamental ideas regarding the policy of restoration, including a partial dismantlement, and work procedures were decided. In addition, investigation items necessary to actually carry out restoration were discussed.
Japan’s technical cooperation will consist of providing necessary support for drawing restoration plans, within this fiscal year, for the Prambanan Temple, which holds a central position within the entire compound and whose early re-opening to the public is desired. In concrete terms, a seismograph will be installed to elucidate the vibration character of the structure and thereby propose necessary methods for structural reinforcement. In addition, orthographic images will be made and the condition of damage of each stone, method of restoration and areas of dismantlement will be indicated on them in order to prepare a detailed plan for restoration that will make an estimation of the cost possible. For this purpose, another on-site investigation is scheduled to be made after September.