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2022 Lobby Exhibition :
Door Panels of Wat Rajpradit,
a First-grade Royal Buddhist Temple in Bangkok, Thailand
July 28, 2022 -


 Wat Rajpradit, located in Bangkok, is one of the first-grade royal Buddhist temples in Thailand. According to a tradition, three royal Buddhist temples shall be constructed in Thailand as each dynasty built its capital. As there had been only two royal temples in Bangkok, in 1864, Wat Rajpradit was built by the order of King Rama IV. The temple was also the first one constructed for the sect which was established by the king. King Rama IV had a progressive spirit and had been a monk for many years before his accession to the throne, the king established the sect to modernize the Buddhism in Thailand. Until nowadays the members of the royal family have visited the temple for worshipping, in 2010, a restoration work of the temple buildings began funded by the Crown Property Bureau. The ordination hall of Wat Rajpradit has hinged double doors on its entrances and windows. The doors feature panels decorated mother-of-pearl inlay with underpainting and colored lacquer maki-e. Over 150 years have passed since establishment of the temple, exfoliation of shells and deterioration of lacquer film occurred. Especially since the style of patterns of mother-of-pearl inlay with underpainting looks like Japanese, in 2012, The Institute was requested to provide technical support for the restoration of the panels by the Fine Arts Department, the Ministry of Culture of Thailand. The Institute has been studying about the conservation and restoration of cultural properties in Thailand jointly with the Department since 1992.
 In the restoration process for cultural properties, it is vital to investigate the age, materials, condition and manufacturing technique of the properties before starting the restoration. Accordingly, researchers and research institutions from both inside and outside the Institute carried out various studies ranging from visual observation, optical investigation to chemical analysis. Apart from on-site investigations, two panels were brought to Japan for detailed investigations and test restoration from October 2013 to July 2015 as a funded study by the temple, in order to establish a restoration plan. In addition, to learn the provenance and characterization of the panels in the history of Japanese lacquerworks, studies were conducted from perspectives such as art history, musicology, history of Japanese trade, and so on, mainly on the motives of the decoration on the panels. Until now, we have continued the study with extending the subject to the lacquerworks exported from Japan to Thailand. As for the restoration project at the initiative of the Fine Arts Department, in October 2020, a workshop was set up in a building of Wat Rajpradit and the experts of the Department have been involved in the restoration of the panels.
 This exhibition introduces the results of research on lacquered door panels of Wat Rajpradit conducted through now in various fields. It also exhibits the photos of some Japanese lacquerworks found in Thailand. We hope you will think of the history of exchange between Japan and Thailand through the findings of this multidisciplinary study. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all parties who have joined this study, namely the Fine Arts Department and Wat Rajpradit.

July, 2022
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties
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