The 『Report of the Optical Study for the Ryukyu Paintings』was published by the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in March 2017. The Ryukyu paintings refer to paintings drawn in the Ryukyu islands during the Ryukyu dynasty era, although they have not been definitively defined. The paintings were largely influenced by Chinese and Japanese paintings, but the depiction and coloring are different from those paintings. Many of the Ryukyu paintings disappeared during World War II, and sufficient research has not been performed.
We have conducted an optical study of the Ryukyu paintings located inside and outside Okinawa Prefecture since 2008. In this report, high-resolution color images and the results of coloring materials by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry were analyzed for eleven paintings held by the Okinawa Prefectural Museums and the Okinawa Churashima Foundation.. It is the first time that an optical study of Ryukyu paintings has been conducted, and we believe that publishing the results of the study is of great help in deepening the understanding of the Ryukyu paintings. We hope that this report will be widely used for research on the painting and art history of Japan. Although this report is not for sale, it can be viewed at prefectural libraries throughout the country.
Structures of historical buildings in Iran are mainly made of bricks or clay walls. However, wood is also used for making its roof frame, beams, window frames and so on. Damage of termites is found extensively in the central to southeastern parts of Iran, including Isfahan according to a preliminary survey conducted last fiscal year, and it is the major issue of the conservation of historical buildings in these regions. Termites are notorious as an insect pest for wooden materials. Their damage used to be widely found in Japan as well, but preventive measures have been gradually established to date. In order to support for establishing appropriate measures for conserving wooden built heritage and historical objects in Iran by sharing such knowledge, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) co-organized a workshop on insect damage to wooden cultural properties in Isfahan from April 17th through 19th, 2017.
From Japan, Mr. Masahiko TOMODA and Mr. Hiroki YAMADA of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation of TNRICP, Mr. Yukio KOMINE of the Center for Conservation Science of TNRICP and Mr. Kazushi KAWAGOE, Senior Researcher of Institute for Environmental Culture, participated in the workshop. From Iran, more than 20 experts got together from various parts of the nation, including Yazd, Tehran and Gilan, as well as Isfahan. On Day 1 and Day 3, presentations were given from both sides on materials and structures of historical buildings in both countries, and actual cases and monitoring surveys of insect pest damage to them. On Day 2, to discuss specific measures and others, all participants visited historical buildings to conduct a survey to identify termite damage and a test to install IGRs (Insect Growth Regulators) that does not affect the environment badly.
We heard that after the workshop, ICHHTO began preparation for establishing a new laboratory engaged in research on the prevention of termites in Isfahan. We believe that this workshop was able to contribute to conserving Iran’s valuable cultural heritage in any way.
In the wake of a gas fumigation incident due to an erroneous agent in 2010, five gold picture screens became discolored. Based on the method that was determined as a result of discussing a policy for addressing the issue among parties concerned, including the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), these gold picture screens’ surface had been stabilized since 2012. They were finally returned to the Ekingura (Konan City, Kochi Prefecture) on April 17th, 2017 (carried out of the TNRICP on April 14th). With the screens’ safety as top priority, as a treatment to stabilize the surface, the following measures were taken: 1) The screens were dismantled to perform cleaning to remove the agent on the paper; 2) Prevention of the exfoliation of a paint layer, repairing of the paper, mending of a rupture of the paper, replacement of the lining paper and retouching of the repaired places; and 3) replacements of the foundation, osoigi frame support, karakami lining paper and metallic materials and reconstruction into a 2-panel folding screen. Each screen was packaged in order of a gas barrier bag, a screen bag and a cardboard box and delivered by a land vehicle specifically designed to transport art objects.
In the presence of the Kumamoto Art and Culture Promotion Foundation, to which they were returned, the five screens were stored in a treasure house safely and the Ekingura Management Committee, the Akaoka Gold Picture Screen Preservation Association and those parties concerned in Kochi Prefecture and Konan City appeared to be pleased. Though it was unfortunately rainy, when the truck arrived and the screens were carried in, it stopped raining as if the parties’ wishes came true. The TNRICP will give advice on a preservation environment for the gold picture screens from this point onward.
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred with its epicenter in Norcia, Perugia in the central area of Italy on August 24th, 2016, and caused massive human and material damage in and around the area. Coincidentally, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit the central area of Myanmar on the same day, which damaged a large number of Buddhist stupas and mural paintings drawn in the Bagan remains. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) had formulated ways of conserving and restoring brick structures and mural paintings specifically for the Mae-taw-yat shrine (No. 1205) in the Bagan remains and carried out projects with an eye toward developing human resources up to that time. After the area suffered earthquake damage, however, extra items to be addressed were added, forcing the TNRICP to modify its policy partially.
Against this background, with the aim of exchanging views and opinions about how to address issues and preservation and restoration philosophy when regarding structures that had mural painting and stucco ornaments as mixed heritage, a party visited the disaster sites in Italy from April 20th through 27th, 2017. According to local experts who were engaged in restoration activities, work was behind schedule due to enormous damage but the inspection survey proved to be productive in a number of ways in terms of how to identify the actual state of damage or establish a procedure for conservation and restoration.
This survey was primarily targeted at churches that had religious mural paintings that were associated with the Bible. Meanwhile, in the Bagan remains, the main target is temples that have Buddhist mural paintings. Though the era, objective of production and techniques employed are different between the two, they share the same philosophy in moving ahead with efforts to save cultural assets in disaster-stricken areas. We will continue to promote research on how appropriate restoration projects targeting mixed cultural properties should be while leveraging international networks.
On March 27th, 2017, a party of three members from Heritage Conservation Centre, National Heritage Board in Singapore visited the TNRICP for the purpose of exchanging opinions on the objectives of lacquer research and inspecting instruments used for the research, with a view to introducing analytical instruments for lacquer and related materials. They were given an explanatory tour by researchers at the Chemistry Laboratory.
On March 27th, 2017, two employees from the overseas business promotion department at Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. visited the TNRICP to refer projects in order to contribute overseas heritage conservation. Leading researchers briefed their operations at the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation.
Namban lacquer, which is characterized by its unique style, was made upon the request of Portuguese , Spaniards and others who visited Japan in the latter half of the 16th century and thereafter. It was made in Makie(gold powder lacquer technique) workshops in Kyoto and exported to Western countries up until the first half of the 17th century. Namban lacquer came to be known in Japan around the late 1930s. Quite a few pieces have been brought back to Japan from around the 1970s and found their way into museums and galleries all over the country. Recent investigation has revealed that many pieces are still owned by Christian facilities and other places in Spain and Portugal. In recent years, many exhibitions focusing on Namban lacquer have been held both in and outside Japan, and many of you may have actually seen them before.
One of the major characteristics of Namban lacquer is its appearance, that is, a Western-style vessel decorated by Japanese traditional Makie and Raden (mother-of-pearl decoration). In addition, based on multiple studies, including art-historical, historiographical, organic chemical, wood antomical, conchological, and radiological studies, of its patterns, materials, and techniques, it has become clear that this object is a characteristic cultural asset strongly reflecting the Age of Commerce by having elements from not only Europe and Japan but also various Asian regions, such as East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia.
With the aim of specifically confirming these multiple characteristics of Namban lacquer and sharing the recognition, the symposium was held at the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) for 2 days on March 4th and 5th, 2017, where 12 reports were presented by 11 domestic and foreign experts and enthusiastic discussions were held. Further, the number of participants in this symposium totaled 25 persons from overseas (Europe, the US, and Asia) and 160 persons from various places in Japan, reflecting a growing interest in Namban lacquer among people in Japan and overseas.
On March 14th, a research council meeting on the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives was held as part of the research project “Research/Study and Corpus Preparation of Modern & Contemporary Art.”
Yutaka MATSUZAWA(1922-2006), known for his work and performance based on unique concepts, developed his own thoughts and concepts by assimilating oriental religious views, cosmic views, modern mathematics, astrophysics, etc., and expressed them in the form of art. As a highly important figure, he has been well regarded as a pioneer of “conceptual art” not only in Japan but also in the world. This research council meeting was held with the objective of sharing, among concerned parties, the summary and development activities of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives, which are now being managed by the General Incorporated Foundation “MATSUZAWA Yutaka Psi Room” (Executive Director Haruo MATSUZAWA), and of confirming their value as research materials. First, the following researches and reports were presented: Ms. Yoshiko SHIMADA (Artist) “Current progress towards establishment of the MATSUZAWA Archives: March 2017”; Mr. Shuhei HOSOYA (Research Assistant, Film and Media Department of Tohoku University of Art and Design) “Current status of research on films related to Yutaka MATSUZAWA and their digitization”; Dr. Midori YAMAMURA (JSPS Postdoctoral Fellowship for Research in Japan, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties) “Letters of Yayoi KUSAMA – Character of Yayoi KUSAMA as seen through the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives”; and Dr. Reiko TOMII (Art historian, Co-founder of PoNJA-GenKon) “Position of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives in archive studies” (in their order of presentation). In the discussions held following the presentations, experts of post-war Japanese art participated and opinions were exchanged on major tasks for the development of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives, on the prevention of loss of archives of post-war and contemporary Japanese artists, and on the need to have specialized institutions to house archives for artists, etc.
The Workshop on Canoe Culture was held at the Institute on March 22nd, as a part of the activities on “Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation on the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project in Oceania Island Countries” supported by Agency for Cultural Affairs in FY2016. In this workshop, four experts (Dr. Peter Nuttall, Ms. Alison Newell, Mr. Samual London-Nuttall, Mr. Kaiafa Ledua), who were invited to Japan from the University of the South Pacific, a base institution of the partner country, presented their research reports. They are actively promoting research to explore the possibility of exploiting the traditional techniques for voyage canoes of Oceania in the development of “sustainable transportation” using renewable energy such as wind power. At the same time, they are involved in the restoration of ancient canoes in Fiji and experimental voyage. In this workshop, they reported the present status and future prospects of such research and efforts.
In this workshop, three Japanese experts also made research reports. Prof. Akira GOTO, Director of Anthropological Institute, Nanzan University, gave a talk on Hawaii-style outrigger canoes in Ogasawara Islands. Ms. Kyoko MIYAZAWA, a visiting researcher at Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, presented the method of visual recording of canoes. Mr. Masahiro UCHIDA, an ocean journalist and a lecturer at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, discussed the rise of the canoe and kayak culture in Japan. At the end of the workshop, a comprehensive discussion among presenters and participants was organized. The workshop has been attended by more than 20 participants mainly consisting of experts and has provided the good opportunity for heated discussions and vivid information exchanges.
After the workshop, four invited researchers made a trip to Okinawa and visited Oceanic Culture Museum in Okinawa Ocean Expo Park, a national government park in Motobu Town. The Oceanic Culture Museum has founded as the government pavilion at the time of the Okinawa Expo 1975. The collection of ethnographic materials of Oceania is one of the world’s largest and is especially famous for canoes. While receiving a lecture by Dr. Hidenobu ITAI, curator, they investigated the canoe materials that are now almost
nonexistent in the area. In addition, in Nago city, they visited the atelier of a group restoring Sabani which is a traditional wooden fishing boat in Okinawa and could exchange valuable information.
The culture of driving canoes used to be quite common not only in Oceania but also in the wide region of the Pacific Rim including the Japanese archipelago. After the early modern times, these cultures have disappeared one after another in various places. In recent years, the movement called “canoe renaissance” to restore such culture has been developed in various places. It includes, for example, the canoe restoration in Fiji and the restoration of Sabani in Okinawa. The workshop and the subsequent trip to Okinawa have been quite successful and have demonstrated fruitful results of the collaboration between Oceania and Japan in the reconstruction of such canoe culture.
Publication of Reports and DVD Titled “Making Kizumi’s Winnowing Baskets – Kizumi, Sosa City, Chiba Prefecture”
The technique for making wisteria winnowing baskets transmitted in Kizumi, Sosa City, Chiba Prefecture, which we had researched from September 2015, was finally published as reports and visual recording at the end of March, 2017.
This program was conducted as part of the Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network Promotion Project in order to examine what kind of record would work well for the restoration of any technique lost due to disaster or for other reasons. In cooperation with holders of that technique, we recorded a series of processes from the collection and processing of raw materials to winnowing basket weaving as an almost-7-hour-long video, as well as written and illustrated reports.
Now we are thinking of verifying the video and reports so as to explore the possibility of making better records for precious techniques. These PDF reports and DVD images are to be uploaded onto the website of the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties around mid-June, 2017.
Seminar on Iranian Cultural Heritage and Exchange of Letter of Intent for Cooperation with Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization and Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism
The Islamic Republic of Iran is famous for having the world’s most important cultural heritage sites, including Persepolis, the capital city of the Persian Empire during the Achaemenid Dynasty, and Esfahan, which had been called “half of the world” because of its prosperity.
The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) recently extended an invitation to Dr. Mohammad Hassan Talebian (Deputy Director of the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization of Iran) and Dr. Mohammad Beheshti Shirazi (Head of the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism of Iran) to hold the “Seminar on Iranian Cultural Heritage” on March 29th, 2017. Together with lectures by Japanese experts, the two guests delivered interesting lectures on the historical and cultural background of Iran as well as the protection of cultural heritage.
After the seminar, the TNRICP, the Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization, and the Research Institute of Cultural Heritage and Tourism expressed through a letter of intent their desire for a fiveyear cooperation in various academic fields to protect the cultural heritage in Iran.
Since fiscal year of 2011, the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been cooperating with the Department of Culture (DOC) of the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan on the study of traditional rammed earth buildings. This cooperation was triggered by the successive earthquakes in 2009 and 2011 that caused severe damage to buildings constructed with the traditional method. The urgent task of striking a balance between ensuring safety by improving the seismic capacity of both public and private buildings and protecting/inheriting the traditional method that is still widely used in housing construction, etc. has become the center of attention.
The research programme centered on the buildings constructed with earth rammed inside the wooden formwork from the perspective of both understanding and analyzing structural performance and clarifying traditional architectural techniques. Meanwhile, a legal framework for the preservation of private residential buildings as cultural heritage was being developed. Therefore, since fiscal year of 2016, investigation efforts have focused establishing basic typological and chronological indexing of rammed earthen traditional houses under the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (“Research on the typology and chronology of rammed-earth buildings in Bhutan,” Principal Researcher: Nobuo KAMEI, Director General of TNRICP).
In the joint field survey conducted from March 4th to 16th, 2017, a measurement survey, among others, was conducted on a total of 16 traditional houses in Thimphu and Punakha prefectures, where efforts were made to collect information for studies of the original building shape, construction period, history of modification, etc., including observation of remaining traces and interviews with residents.
Further, during this time, a research cooperation agreement was signed by the representatives of both parties, the aim of which was to further strengthen cooperative relations between the Institute and DOC. While considering the feelings of the people of Bhutan, who are keen to continue protecting their tangible and intangible traditional culture, we will continue working on this investigative research in hopes of contributing to the clarification of cultural values of historic architectures.
Many historic settlements in Katmandu Valley were damaged by the Nepal Gorkha Earthquake in April 2015 and restoration efforts have continued to this day. In the process, however, the preserving historical value of historic settlements in the process of rehabilitation is inadequate. For example, traditional houses were demolished and replaced by new modern buildings. As a problem that lies in the background, even if people concerned wish to preserve historic settlements, there is no well-developed system to preserve them as cultural assets.
Although concerned authorities of the Government of Nepal have made efforts to establish a conservation system, actual conservation practice largely depends on local administrative bodies that have jurisdiction over target settlements and are responsible for the preparation of conservation guidelines. With this in mind, we co-hosted a conference in Nepal at the end of November where we invited concerned parties from six municipalities in Katmandu Valley, which have jurisdiction over the historic districts inscribed on the World Heritage List and the historic settlements inscribed on the World Heritage Tentative List. Our objectives were to share information about the current situation and tasks for preserving these districts and settlements and to convey information on Japan’s conservation system.
8 Nepalese experts and officers who are locally in charge of the preservation of historic settlements were invited by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties from March 4th to 12th, 2017 to attend an on-the-job training regarding the preservation system for historic settlements. All the following visitors played important role at the “Conference on the Preservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu Valley” in November. They visited the important preservation districts for groups of historic buildings in Hokuriku Region and Chubu Region, including Kuroshima District in Wajima city and Gokayama Ainokura Settlement in Nanto city. They also received information from local officers and concerned personnel and actively exchanged opinions by referring to their own problems and the current situations of historic settlements and districts under the participants’ jurisdiction.
We would like to continue our technological support in hopes that an appropriate preservation system would be developed for the preservation of historic settlements in Nepal under the initiatives of the participants of this training.
Numerous Japanese artworks can be found in European and American collections overseas. However, there are few conservators of these artworks overseas, and many of them cannot be shown to the public since they have not been properly conserved. Thus, the Institute conducts the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas in order to properly conserve and exhibit these works. For three days from February 28th, 2017, KATO Masato, EMURA Tomoko and Won Hee Jae of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation visited and surveyed eleven Japanese paintings of nine works in the Grassi Museum for Ethnology in Leipzig.
This museum houses around 200,000 pieces of fine art and craft, as well as folk materials, collected throughout the world except Europe. Of course, Japanese paintings, the historical value of which is high, are also included, such as the works previously owned by Dr. Heinrich Botho Scheube, who came to Japan as a foreign specialist employed by the government in the Meiji era, and paintings from Japan with a history of having been exhibited at the Third Paris International Exposition in 1878. The existence of these Japanese paintings has not been well known so far, but some are important works from the perspective of art history. Providing information obtained from this survey for the persons in charge of this museum, we expect it will be utilized for the appropriate conservation and management of these works. Based on the outcomes of this survey, we will proceed with the project by selecting the ones to be restored through consultation while considering the evaluation of the works in art history and the urgency of their restoration needs.
On February 13th, 2017, ten members of the Japanese Association for Conservation of Architectural Monuments (JACAM) visited the TNRICP to improve future conservation and repair techniques as part of the development and training of specialists in the repair of historic buildings. The group toured the Performing Arts Studio, the Library, the Radiography Laboratory, and the Biology Laboratory and received explanations about the work being done in these areas from the researchers in charge.
Joint Study of Paintings of Buddhist Deities Cundi and Samantabhadra in the Collection of the Tokyo National Museum
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems regularly works with the Tokyo National Museum to study Buddhist paintings from the Heian Period in its collection. Each year, high-resolution digital imaging technology belonging to the Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is employed to image these works from the 12th century or earlier to gather data that enables researchers to study in greater detail the techniques employed to produce the works. Such data has revealed the use of extraordinary techniques that would not have been apparent with the naked eye. Researchers from the two institutions explore how these techniques were used to create such sophisticated pictorial depictions of Buddhist deities so many centuries in the past. As part of this year’s study, a painting of Cundi (Juntei-Kannon) (Important Cultural Property) and a painting of Samantabhadra (Fugen Bosatsu) (National Treasure) were imaged on February 23rd, 2017 in high-resolution color in sections, along with all of this year’s National Treasure selections. Going forward, other optical study methods will be adopted in this joint work and the results shared with museum researchers so that the place of such paintings in art history can be assessed with an eye toward presenting the paintings to the public in the future.
The 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems “Study of the Western Cruciform Sword Possessed by Fujisakae Shrine in Koka City”
Fujisakae Shrine is located in Minakuchi, Koka City, Shiga Prefecture, the predecessor of which was Yoshiaki Reisha Shrine founded in the early 19th century in order to enshrine feudal lord Yoshiaki KATO, Founder of the family, governing Minakuchi area in the Edo period. The shrine has a variety of treasures, which are said to have been possessed by Yoshiaki. The Western style sword with a black lacquer sheath, which is said to have been granted by Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI, is one of them. Mostly intact in form, this sword is in no way inferior to the rapiers produced in Europe from the 16th to the 17th century. Although it seems to be the only Western sword handed down to the 21st century in Japan, the rapier has been stored at the Minakuchi Museum of History and Folklore in Koka City for many years without attracting much concern so far.
In September 2016, the rapier was investigated from art historical and physicochemical perspectives by the five members of Ms. Akiko NAGAI (Board of Education in Koka City), Mr. Toshihiko SUEKANE (Tokyo National Museum), Ms. Motoko IKEDA (Kyoto National Museum), Prof. Kazutoshi HARADA (Tokyo University of the Arts), and me, Koji KOBAYASHI. The summary and the outcomes of our study were reported at the 10th Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems held on February 24th, 2017.
The presentations made by the members are “Historical Background on the Western Cruciform Sword Stored at Fujisakae Shrine” by Ms. Nagai; “Study of the Substantiality and Age of the Rapier Handed Down to Fujisakae Shrine – Reconnaissance with Museum Collections, Excavated artifacts and eary modern genre paintings” by Kobayashi; “Regarding the Western Sword Housed by Fujisakae Shrine” by Mr. Suekane; “The Western Sword Possessed by Fujisakae Shrine: X-ray CT Scanning and Fluorescent X-ray Analysis” by Ms. Ikeda; and “The Western Sword Belonging to Fujisakae Shrine – Comparison with Overseas Materials –” by Prof. Harada. The outcomes of our preliminary study were presented from diversified perspectives, including the reference to historical backdrops on swords and related artifacts, the study of hilt patterns and production techniques from the viewpoint of the metalworking history, the report of the data obtained through CT scanning and fluorescent X-ray analysis, and comparison with rapiers stored overseas, in addition to topics on Fujisakae Shrine and Yoshiaki KATO.
Furthermore, whether this Western sword was produced at home or abroad is an important issue in considering the craftsmanship in the Momoyama period and its historical evaluation. We discussed the issue by exchanging various opinions and views after the presentations, which did not result in any consensus. We recognized the importance of this sword and the necessity of its further research anew.
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation held a lacquerware workshop at the Lacquerware Technology College in Bagan, Myanmar, as part of the project ʻProtection and Conservation of Cultural Properties in Myanmarʼ Bagan is a major production area for lacquerware. The above-mentioned college is working hard to train young lacquerware specialists to pass down local traditions and techniques. A lacquerware museum is attached to the college, where many cultural properties are housed. On the other hand, they need knowledge and skills related to the conservation and restoration of their cultural properties and scientific research on materials.
Twelve college teachers and the museum curators participated in the workshop held from February 6th to 8th, 2017. The participants were provided with practical training and lectures on investigation and scientific analysis which are essential for the basis on conservation and restoration of lacquerware. In the practical training, each participant was required to visually examine and take notes on three pieces of Japanese lacquerware and one from the museum collection, followed by a discussion about their uses, materials, techniques and condition of damage. Finally, the comments and explanations were given by the instructor. In the scientific analysis part of the practical training, the participants prepared and observed by themselves cross-section samples. Fragments detached from actual lacquerware were embedded in synthetic resin, and the well-polished samples were then observed using a microscope to understand the structure of the lacquer coating. To cover the practical training, lectures were also provided to introduce a case study of conservation and restoration, along with prevalent methods of scientific analysis.
The aim of the workshop was to provide the college teachers and curators with experience that would help them to protect the cultural properties in Myanmar.
The Research on Conservation and Restoration Method for Outer Wall of Brick Temples in Bagan, Myanmar
From February 5th to 28th, 2017, at Me-taw-ya (No. 1205) temple in the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, the experiments with restoration materials and techniques were carried out in order to establish restoration methods for outer wall of brick temples, mainly aiming at protecting mural paintings from rain leakage. The previous surveys raised the issues to be resolved: the selection of appropriate restoration materials and methods considering aesthetic appearance of the monuments. Repeated discussion with the staff members of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar, resulted in a meaningful exchange of ideas about concrete restoration methods. On the other hand, explained in detail by local experts, a study was conducted to get the information about the changes of techniques and iconography, related to mural paintings which are the principal subject of this project.
During the field work on site, a series of significant damage was detected to the temple structure, caused by the earthquake measuring M6.8 that struck central Myanmar on August 24th, 2016. Consequently, the remedial intervention was taken on the damaged areas, partially rescheduling the first planning. In the Bagan Archaeological Site, obviously rain leakage is the crucial cause of deterioration of the brick temples and mural paintings which decorate their inside. Lashing belts were employed to reinforce the structure, along with nets and waterproof sheets to prevent collapses and water penetration, taking into account the approaching rainy season.
The results of chemical analysis of various materials used during the construction period will provide the criteria for revising the restoration methods introduced in the past and for studying the compatibility between new and old materials. Also, a plan will be made with local experts for new restoration methods adapted to the current situation of the Bagan Archaeological Site.
Holding the seminar “Ancient Wooden Architecture in Mainland Southeast Asia: Reading the Features of Lost Buildings from Archaeological Evidence”
The seminar “Ancient Wooden Architecture In Mainland Southeast Asia: Reading The Features Of Lost Buildings From Archaeological Evidence” was held on 13 February 2017. In this seminar, experts from
Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Japan made presentations on the developments on this field in each country, shared information and exchanged opinions.
In their presentations, the lecturers explained the different efforts being carried out in each country in order to determine the features of already lost wooden buildings from the remaining archaeological evidence. In Myanmar, large postholes shaped as wells and surrounded by bricks have been unearthed at the Bagan Royal Palace site. In Thailand, foundation stones, unearthed roof tiles, and traces of wooden members remaining in masonry walls and pillars have been used as hints to deduce the features of the wooden posts, walls and roof structures that existed in the sites of Sukhothai and the Phitsanulok Royal Palace. In central Vietnam, foundation stones, ornamental eave-end tiles and burned wooden members have been excavated from several Lin Yi sites, and reconstruction proposals of wooden structures have been developed on the basis of postholes found at the Champa site of My Son. Regarding northern Vietnam, the features of the foundation works and unearthed roof tiles at the Thang Long Imperial Citadel site were introduced, and a comparative analysis between earthenware architectural models and existing ancient buildings was made.
A question and answers session was held after each presentation, and at the end of the seminar a panel discussion with the participation of all the presenters was held, including the Japanese approach among the discussion topics.
The results of the fruitful exchange of information carried out during this seminar will serve as a basis for future cooperative research efforts, directed at furthering the understanding of the wooden built heritage of Southeast Asia.