Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage

Specialists Conference on the Conservation of the Thang Long Citadel Ruins

General meeting at Conservation Center

 The Thang Long Citadel in the center of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, contains the ruins of buildings and section facilities of successive emperors, including the Ly Dynasty (11-13th century). A large amount of relics also were examined during the survey accompanying the rebuilding of the parliament house, and conservation support assistance will continue based on the agreement between the Japanese and Vietnamese governments. The emergency unearthing research has reached a tentative conclusion, and the significant issue is how to conserve and make use of the unearthed ruins and relics.
 In this conference, archaeology, architecture, history, sociology, and conservation planning experts from the Japan-Vietnam Joint Expert Committee for Archaeology, Architecture, History, Sociology and Conservation visited Vietnam and discussed future cooperation with the Vietnamese members and relevant organizations. At the general meeting on July 28, representatives of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and Japanese Embassy in Vietnam also attended. We discussed both medium- and long-term plans and short-term issues, such as the millennium anniversary of the construction of the capital in Hanoi in next year and the completion of a new congress hall within three years. We agreed to provide expert support in the area of conservation of ruins and relics and arrangement and exhibit plans in addition to conventional research on the ruins’ value.
 This dispatch to Vietnam was conducted as part of the research using the scientific research fund of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Hereafter, more effective assistance is anticipated in coordination with the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust.

33rd World Heritage Committee

Counting of the votes for and against the registration of the works of Le Corbusi
A scene of the discussion. Chairperson is in the center of the screen, content of discussions appears in English and French

 The 33rd World Heritage Committee was held in Seville, Spain from June 22 to 30. Discussions were held every day in temperatures of over 40ºC until 23:00 at an exhibition hall where sometimes wild birds wandered into and flew about. From Japan, participants included members of related government ministries and research organizations as well as local officials aiming to have their local heritage registered in the World Heritage List: Two members including myself attended from our Institute.
 Thirteen heritage sites (2 natural and 11 cultural) were registered in the World Heritage List, and one heritage site was deleted, so the list now includes 890 heritage sites. A high regard for human-rights related heritage was seen, as seen in the registration of heritage sites related to the slave trade. Although the final decision was made by information survey, in terms of international collaboration it seemed that nominating multiple heritage sites spanning multiple countries as one heritage site was recommended, as seen in the works of Le Corbusier, including those in the National Museum of Western Art.
 It was also decided to remove the Dresden Elbe Valley from the list, because immediately after it was registered, a bridge crossing the valley was planned that endangered world heritage. The bridge was not cancelled, and no specific alternative plan was proposed from Germany. This was the second time a site was deleted the list, but the first time such deletion went against the wishes of the site’s home country.
 Some of the discussions scheduled for this meeting were postponed to next year due to the numerous discussions about secret voting and repetitive speeches, and it seemed that there were problems in the debate proceedings. We again recognized the importance of diplomacy in the registration of world heritage through seeing changes in discussion content a conflict between two countries that have more wide-reaching issues.

Grand Egyptian Museum Conservation and Restoration Center Project – First Training Session in Japan

Dyeing practice using synthetic dye

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, in response to a request from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), offered technical support for the project of establishing a Conservation and Restoration Center as an affiliated organization of the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is located in Giza, Egypt. For approximately two months from July 8, 2009 to September 1, we are executing first training session for this project in order to foster human resources and transfer technology. Two trainees who work for to the Conservation and Restoration Center of the Grand Egyptian Museum, Ms.Dalia Ali Elsaid and Ms.Venice Ibrahim Attia, were selected from among 22 Egyptian conservation/restoration specialists. They are attending the training class on conservation and restoration of dyed goods together with Iraqi trainees invited to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, through grants from the Institute and the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust and are improving their expertise accordingly. This training is performed through a combination of lecture and practicum through the cooperation of specialists from the facilities in the Joshibi University of Art and Design.

Networking Core Exchange Program – Mongolia: Technical Exchange Workshop on Color Painting of Wooden Structures

Introduction to example of repairing Japanese color coating
Practice: Understanding the outline of drawing patterns with the naked eye

 As part of the networking core exchange program in Mongolia, five specialists from Japan visited Mongolia from July 20 to 29. They held a technical exchange workshop on the color painting of wooden structures at the restoration site of Bereven Monastery in Khentii Aimag Prefecture. This workshop was planned jointly by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in Mongolia (MECS), in order to improve the wooden structure conservation and repair techniques to meet the current needs of Mongolia.
 The first half of the workshop contained presentations and opinion exchange on the repair and restoration plan and execution of color painting, traditional repair and restoration techniques, and scientific analysis. In the latter half, we analyzed and practiced on old material of the monastery using Japanese traditional color painting. The four Mongolian participants from each organization were in charge of color painting from the National Center of Cultural Heritage (CCH) and Suld-Uul Company, which has been contracted for the conservation and repair of historical buildings. The experts who did the actual restoration from both countries exchanged opinions and found common basic principles. Although some differences were revealed, sharing this significant information will benefit future technical exchange.
 When the workshop was finished, the Japanese specialists visited the Amarbayasgalant Temple of the Selenge Aimag Prefecture in northern Mongolia, and used scientific analysis to survey the existing color coating. Through this survey, the participants became aware of the importance of sharing information on analytical methods and results, and found a desire for continued exchange between experts. We feel that we have another place where Japanese experience and technology can contribute to the conservation of Mongolian cultural heritage.

Program for Human Resources Development along the Silk Road: Completion of the Conservation and Restoration Course for Old Buildings

Awarding certificates

 The conservation and restoration course for old buildings (Program for Human Resource Development along the Silk Road) has been conducted for four months since early April at Ta’Er Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Qinghai. This program was successfully completed following three months of training in Beijing last autumn. On July 31, representatives of the China State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the National Institute of Cultural Heritage, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, Qinghai Cultural Heritage Bureau, Ta’Er Monastery, and China Samsung Corporation – which had supplied funds – attended and held a closing ceremony. Twelve trainees from Shinjang, Gansu, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shanxi, and Henan provinces and autonomous regions were present. They did not necessarily have the same experiences in construction conservation, and there were some troubles in understanding the content of the training program and in getting results. However, they made use of their capabilities and helped each other get through the long training over a period of seven months. The Japanese and Chinese instructors together considered the issues that the trainees confronted and searched for solutions. These seven months made us realize how the conservation of cultural heritage requires the knowledge and techniques of many people. Last year, the trainees completed an investigation report of Beijing Gugong Zijincheng, and this year they completed an investigation report of Ta’Er Monastery as well as a practice report that summarized the twelve research papers on personal themes. They have returned to their respective organizations and are now back at their daily jobs. I hope that the training they experienced will be a bright light that will illuminate their future paths.


Training of Iraqi Specialists

Japanese language training

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation used the government subsidized budget for the Cooperative Project for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in West Asia and UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in Trust for the Reconstruction of the Conservation and Restoration Department of the Iraq National Museum in Baghdad in order to invite Iraqi conservation specialists to Japan for training to transfer techniques for conservation and of cultural heritage. This year four specialists in conservation – Ms. Senaa C. A. Al-Timini, Mr. Fadhil A. Allaw, Mr. Mohammad K. M. J. Al-Mimar and Ms.Baan A. M. A. Al-Jameel – have been invited from the Iraq National Museum. They will spend 3 months, from June 19 to September 18, receiving practical training on the conservation of textiles and training on equipment for conservation of cultural properties and material analysis. The program will be conducted with the cooperation of domestic institutes for conservation and restoration, including Joshibi University of Art and Design, the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and the Shizuoka Research Institute for Buried Cultural Properties.

Conservation and Restoration of Mural Painting Fragments in Tajikistan and Capacity Building (Fifth Mission)

Making a new support
Joining mural painting fragments

 The 5th mission for Conservation and Restoration of Mural Painting Fragments in the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan was dispatched from May 13 to June 12. Four Tajik trainees joined in the conservation of mural painting fragments excavated from the Kara-i Kahkaha (Shafristan) site in northern Tajikistan in continuation of last year’s mission. The trainees learned how to join mural painting fragments and remove the attached gauze.The fragments that had been cleaned and joined were then put together to make a larger piece. This piece was reinforced with a triaxial woven textile made of rayon (Sakase Adtech Co., Ltd.) and then mounted on a new support. Conventionally, plaster and wood are used for support, but this time carbon fiber and synthetic resin were used to create a support that is more light-weight and that can be easily handled. This series of work was executed with the Tajik trainees for the purpose of transferring techniques to the Tajik people and contributing to capacity building in Tajikistan.

The Program for Capacity Building along the Silk Road: Historical Buildings Course

Practical on-site training

 The second half of the course on the conservation of historical buildings, a part of the “Program for Capacity Building along the Silk Road,” which is a joint project with the China National Institute of Cultural Heritage, was conducted from early April at Kumbum (Ta’er) Monastery, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Qinghai province. While last year’s program focused on restoration theory and measurement survey, this year’s course focused on practicing the actual flow of work, from drawing up conservation management plan to basic design and detailed design. In addition, by giving an outline of the restoration system unique to Japan, in which survey, design and on-site control are undertaken by the same person, we sought to offer an opportunity for Chinese trainees to think about the meaning of conservation that often relies on given manuals.
 Lectures from the Japanese side, which sent 5 lecturers in succession, were completed at the end of May and were followed by lectures from the Chinese side, which continued until the end of July. The twelve trainees have been working hard in their respective fields, but the course has also shed light on various issues. First, although both Japan and China have traditions of wooden constructions and Chinese characters, there are significant unexpected differences between Chinese and Japanese architecture. Thus there was often trouble communicating because of differences in terminology and views on restoration. Second, since restoration work was already in progress at many parts of the monastery, on-site practice could be conducted only on a part of the work site. As such, there was no choice but to change the building used for practice in cases when we could not reach an agreement with the monastery, who wanted the restoration to be done quickly. We really felt the necessity of making sufficient consultation at the planning stage for both curriculum and operation.

Control of World Heritage and Conservation Workshop in 2009

Study of issues when managing world heritage (Peace Memorial Park)
Preparing group work: “Application for World Heritage (Simulation)”

 We participated in the international training workshop Conservation for Peace – World Heritage Impact Assessment: Series Control and Conservation of World Heritage, which was held by the Hiroshima Office of United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), from April 19 to 25, 2009 as part of a study on the applications of international training. Hiroshima Prefecture sponsored the sixth training session this year, and the UNESCO World Heritage Centre, Getty Conservation Institute, the International Council on Monument and Sites (ICOMOS), and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) sent lecturers. Forty two speakers participated from 23 countries, mainly persons working in management, administration, and research organizations of world heritage sites (natural and cultural heritage) in the Asia-Pacific region.
 The training consisted of three sessions: a classroom lecture, an on-site inspection, and group work. We heard lectures on management and were able to understand the importance of world heritage (natural and cultural heritage) and impact assessment. Then we visited the World Heritage Sites in Hiroshima (Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial Park, and Itsukushima Shinto Srine and Miyajima), to evaluate issues at the local sites and have the opportunity to apply and compare the cases in different Asian countries. The work was divided into five groups, including heritage that has not yet been registered as a world heritage site, in which participants created a simplified edition of world heritage registration application, emphasizing impact assessment with respect to the value of the heritage. At the round table open to public on the final date, the participants and citizens exchanged opinions on the issues of Hiroshima’s world heritage through discussions.
 We acquired the specific data on the issues of world heritages in Asia, and also learned the training application method ? using advance preparation to achieve the maximum effect in a short training period, interactive lectures, and the inclusion of the “After Action Review” evaluation method.

Networking Core Centres for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage, Project in Mongolia

Meeting with the chairman of UMA
Viewing survey and restoration drawings at the National Archives

 As part of the Networking Core Centres Project for Mongolia, four members of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation visited Ulan Baator from March 9 to 13 and held discussions to prepare technical cooperation projects for the recording and documenting of stone ruins and the restoration of buildings. Our counterparts are Mr. Enkhbat, Director of the Center for Cultural Heritage of Mongolia, for training programs related to the conservation of stone ruins in Khentii province, and Ms. Oyunbileg, Senior Officer in charge of museums and cultural heritage at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science of Mongolia, for training programs related to the conservation of buildings. In regard to the training program for the conservation of buildings, we met the chairman of the Union of Mongolian Architects (UMA) and exchanged information about topics such as the role of architects in the restoration and conservation of heritage buildings, ways to determine repair and conservation planning methodology, the current state of conservation works, issues related to capacity development as well as execution and control at worksites. We also visited the National Archives of Mongolia and were deeply impressed when we learned that all Mongolian architecture-related documents from 1939 onward, including those related to built heritage conservation, are stored there. We also found similarities between survey methods used in Mongolia and in Japan as we studied an old temple’s actual survey and restoration plans and drawings made in the 1980s. This visit to Mongolia allowed us to capture a good view of the way to further achieve the purpose of the Networking Project: building a system for conservation of cultural heritage that best suits the situation of Mongolia, whilst nurturing experts in this field and the next generation, through mutual communication.

Cooperation with the Establishment of the Conservation Center of the Grand Egyptian Museum

Training on the status investigation at Egypt Museum
Practical training of documentation

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation provides technical support for the establishment of the Conservation Center, an affiliated organization of the Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza, the construction of which is currently underway, in response to a request from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
 Various conservation workshops have been held since last year for capacity development of specialists who will play active roles at the center. In a metals conservation workshop held for five days from March 1 to 5 in the meeting room of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, a lecturer, who has extensive experience in excavation and research in Egypt and in conservation projects, was invited from Greece. In the lecture, she explained the characteristics of metals in the first half of the workshop. In the second half of the workshop, participants were given an opportunity for hands-on practice on conservation, and storage. For practical training of documentation, they were able to use the collection in the Egyptian Museum. As a result, the workshop was very significant. We will answer further requests from Egypt and continue to support capacity development and technology transfer of techniques.

“Cooperation in Economic Development and International Cooperation for Cultural Heritage” Workshop by the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage

Lecture by Ms. Kalin Ceebee

 The fourth workshop of the Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage, “Cooperation in Economic Development and International Cooperation for Cultural Heritage”, took place on March 26, 2009. We invited Mr. Meinolf Spiekerman of the German Agency for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), Ms. Kalin Ceebee of the Swedish National Cultural Heritage Board, Cultural Heritage Committee and Mr. Morita Takahiro of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to give lectures about ideal cooperation for economic development and cultural heritage conservation by Germany, Sweden, and Japan. GTZ provides support packages for health services, traffic control, and other services, while making use of conservation of historical cities in an urban development cooperation framework. The Swedish cooperation for Tanzania aims at improving the hygiene of the inhabitants and eradicating poverty by restoring historical buildings. Over 50 people participated in the workshop, where they discussed the collaborative institution status of various organizations for implementing support and how the uniqueness of one’s native country can be adapted to a partner country. The Consortium will continue to provide the latest information and also a place for discussions through workshops.

Project for the Conservation of the Mural Paintings at Ajanta Caves: Report on the First Mission

Nondestructive analysis of pigments using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
Sampling color specimens

 From February 12 to March 15, 2009, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, dispatched the first mission for the “Networking Core Project Concerning the Conservation of Mural Paintings between the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, and Archaeological Survey of India,” a part of the Networking Core Centres for International Cooperation on Conservation of Cultural Heritage.
 There are many valuable Buddhist mural paintings remaining at Ajanta Caves dating up to the first century C.E. in the earlier period and to the fifth to approximately the eighth centuries C.E. in the later period. However, when trying to conserve these paintings, various problems that are found with the mural paintings of Bamiyan are shared at Ajanta: the strength of the bedrock where the caves were cut, the infiltration of rainwater, bat excrement and blackened attachments likely caused by smoke. To deal with these problems, the first mission conducted investigation together with Indian conservation experts and shared knowledge and experience of conservation materials and techniques, aiming to develop human resources and transfer technology.
 Specific details of the investigation included the following: recording the condition of conservation of the mural paintings (photographing, rough measurement of caves and condition survey), installing thermohygrometers (data logger) to survey the environment; studying the chronology, techniques, and materials of the mural paintings (sampling specimens, infrared/ultraviolet photography and nondestructive analysis using a portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometer); and examining bat excrement.

Finishing the Conservation Project for the Stone Statues of the Tombs of the Tang Dynasty in Shaanxi Province

Evaluation meeting
Mr. Kuroda Tetsuya (center) is given a commemorative gift

 The conservation of the stone statues of the tombs of the Tang dynasty in Shaanxi province, which started in 2004 as a joint project between China and Japan, has been completed successfully. The final site inspection and project evaluation by special advisors and external evaluation committee members were conducted in Xi’an from March 16 to 18. This project was funded by the Japanese benefactor, Mr. Kuroda Tetsuya, who offered a total of 100 million yen to the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research. In the project, stone statues found at the north, south, east and west gates of three mausoleums from the Tang dynasty – two imperial tombs, Qianling and Qiaoling, and Shunling Mausoleum, where the mother of Wu Ze Tian is buried – were restored. The project also included the improvement of the surrounding environment.
 The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has been in charge of the project, working with the Xi’an Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage. Various investigations and restoration work have been conducted, workshops have been hosted, and Chinese members have been invited for research.
 Mr. Kuroda and his wife also participated in this inspection and meeting and were given words of appreciation and a commemorative gift for their support from the Shaanxi Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau.


Creating the Longmen Grottoes Image Database

 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has been developing various support activities and joint research since 2001 to protect the Longmen Grottoes, a world heritage site located in the Luoyang City of Henan Province, China. From 2002 to 2007, together with the Photographing Room of the Department of Research Programming, we used digital cameras which are showing significant development in recent years to advance our study of the collection of experimental image data, and to build up a control system for the three caves of Longmen Grottoes: Lord Huangfu Caves (first half of the sixth century C.E.), Lotus-flower Cave (first half of the sixth century C.E.), and Jing shan si dong (latter half of the seventh century C.E.). The results were compiled in one report titled ‘World Heritage Longmen Grottoes – Japan-China Joint Photographing Project Report (Image Catalog)’ created in March 2003. However, the number of printed copies of this report is limited, so it has not been seen by many people, and the printed matter could not fully demonstrate the effect of the digital images. The fundamental assignment for cultural heritage conservation activities is how to enhance the openness of the various types of data collected by investigative research. Therefore, we decided first to build the control system as a theme, and the staff repeated trial and error for the method for containing data from the investigation. This was done simultaneously with photographing and making use of digital images, resulting in the completion of the Japanese edition of the database and starting of publicity for the Institute’s library. It is expected that using this database will further advance research on the above three caves. We also have high hopes that the method established here can be adapted to a database for other types of cultural heritage. A complete Chinese edition will be provided to the Longmen Grottoes Research Institute, our joint research partner.


Japan-China Expert Workshop on Seismic Countermeasures for Cultural Properties

Integrated discussions
Visit to a devastated site (Erwangmiao)

 The Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan, China last May devastated many cultural properties, and specialists from all over China are exerting themselves in restoring them. A workshop jointly hosted by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan and State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China was held in Chengdu city, Sichuan province from February 9 to 12 to support restoration activities and to contribute to future disaster prevention policy planning. The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation was entrusted with the work of conducting practical businesses, such as planning programs, selecting lecturers and compiling a textbook, from the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
 Sixteen people, including four members of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, were dispatched from Japan and over 70 Chinese took part in the workshop. Lectures were given and discussions were held on measures related to earthquake, preventive measures as well as countermeasures, for museums and other buildings. Japanese speakers introduced anti-earthquake measures to protect cultural properties as well as quake-resistant engineering that has developed in Japan since the Hanshin-Awaji earthquake. Reports were presented by Chinese participants on the situation of cultural properties devastated by the Wenchuan earthquake and actions taken afterwards. Participants also visited stricken sites in Dujiangyan where restoration is being conducted and exchanged opinions on issues that both countries face as well as future countermeasures. This workshop, in which representatives of private enterprises and museums as well as those of 3 provinces, 4 cities and 20 organizations related to the restoration of cultural properties participated, greatly aided in promoting exchange among Chinese professionals in this field as well as between specialists in Japan and China.
 Studies into specific designs for restoration and guidelines for protective measures against earthquakes are ongoing in China, but there remain many issues, such as a shortage of structural engineers, that make us recognize once again the necessity of supporting these activities. Additionally, we felt the need to make every effort to ensure that Japanese ideas of conserving cultural properties are properly understood.

Investigation of the Flood Situation in Yemen

Panorama of Shibam
Flood damage

 In Hadhramaut Province in eastern Yemen, many houses have suffered from the disasters caused by torrential rains and flooding that occurred at the end of October 2008. The damage from flood covered Shibam, a World Heritage site that is called the skyscraper of the desert. The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage, the secretariat of which is located at the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, accepted a request from the Yemen government and dispatched specialists from February 10 to 21 to survey the flood damage to the world heritage Shibam and its surroundings.
 Tall buildings made from mud bricks equivalent to those found in Shibam are found scattered throughout Hadhramaut Province, forming a unique cultural scenery. However, the torrential rains and flood damaged the cultural heritage and historical buildings in Shibam and also those on the periphery, as some buildings cracked or collapsed. We will investigate how we can support the restoration of cultural properties in this area while discussing with related organizations.

Completion of the UNESCO/Japanese Funds-in-Trust Project on the Conservation and Restoration of the Longmen Grottoes

Meeting of the Japanese and Chinese governments and UNESCO
Commemorative photo of Longmen Grottoes project members

 A project for the conservation and restoration of the Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang city, Henan province, China commenced in November 2001 using a trust fund of one million dollars that Japan offered UNESCO to conserve cultural heritage along the Silk Road. The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, was commissioned by UNESCO to play the role as a consulting organization in this project, and has been acting as a facilitator for Japanese specialists. The Institute also received support from the Foundation for Cultural Heritage and Art Research (President, Hirayama Ikuo) and JICA for expenses that could not be covered by the trust fund alone. Additionally, the budget of the Institute has been used to support the project in various ways, including the purchase, installation and maintenance of observation equipments; long and short-term training of researchers of the Longmen Grottoes Research Academy’s Conservation/Restoration Center; and photographing of the site for the construction of an image database at Longmen Grottoes Research Academy. The sum that the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo used above and beyond the UNESCO fund reached approximately 60 million yen.
 Upon completing the project for the conservation and restoration of the Longmen Grottoes in 2008, a final meeting was held at the China National Institute of Cultural Property in Beijing on February 20. This meeting also served as a meeting for the project on the conservation and restoration of Kumutula Qian Fo Dong in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region which was completed at the same time. Reports on these projects were given by the Luoyang Municipal Cultural Relics Bureau and the Cultural Heritage Administration Bureau of Xinjiang. Discussions by specialists were followed by comments from representatives of the Chinese and Japanese governments and the UNESCO Beijing Office. On the following day, a symposium to commemorate the completion of both projects took place and members of respective projects presented the results of their work.


Cooperation in the Conservation of the Bamiyan Birch Bark Buddhist Manuscripts

Mr. Sawara at work
Mr. Hakim-Zada at work

 In the process of safeguarding the Bamiyan site, conducted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (Tokyo and Nara) since 2003, several hundred Buddhist manuscripts were discovered in stone caves. However, since the condition of these manuscripts was very poor, immediate conservation measures were necessary.
 The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation invited Afghan conservation experts from the Kabul Museum as was done last year and jointly executed the conservation of these birch bark Buddhist manuscripts. Mr. Mohammad Sarwar Akbar and Mr. Hakim-Zada Abdullah stayed from November 14, 2008 to January 30, 2009. The deformed pieces were spread and mounted (secured on supporting body) for future exhibition. An observation of the surface of the Buddhist manuscripts made at the Institute with the cooperation of experts in conservation science revealed that there were some pieces to which a substance, most likely pattra (palmyra leaves), and pigments had adhered to the surface. All the 589 pieces were conserved and safely returned to the Kabul Museum in Afghanistan on January 30.
 Joint conservation with Afghans allowed us to cooperate in capacity building and transfer of techniques for Afghans who are engaged in the rehabilitation of cultural properties.

Expert Meeting on Cultural Heritage in Asia and the Pacific

Commemorative photo of the participants

 From January 14-16, 2009, the Expert Meeting on Cultural Heritage in Asia and the Pacific: “Restoration and Conservation of Immovable Heritage Damaged by Natural Disasters” was held in Thailand. This meeting was jointly sponsored by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and Fine Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture, Thailand. It was also supported by SEAMEO-SPAFA (Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts under the aegis of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization) and the Embassy of Japan in Thailand. On the first two days, a round-table conference was held at the Siam City Hotel in Bangkok, and on the final day there was an excursion to the sites in Ayutthaya where actual measures against and post-disaster restoration are being implemented. At the round-table conference, one representative each from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Vietnam as well as Thailand and Japan made presentations. Observers, including local university personnel, presented their opinions and asked questions, and active discussions were held. During the excursion, various types of information on restoration materials were shared by the participants.

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