Cultural Exchange Project for the Conservation and Utilization of Historic Buildings in Bhutan (Part I)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) provides the Royal Government of Bhutan with technical support and human resource development for heritage conservation and sustainable utilization of historic buildings, including traditional houses, under the scheme of International Cooperation Project for Cultural Heritage by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Fiscal Year 2019. TNRICP invited two staff members of the Division for Conservation of Heritage Sites (DCHS) from June 23rd to 28th to Japan to hold the first expert meeting and a case study tour in western Japan.
At the meeting, Mr. Yeshi Samdrup of DCHS presented a report on the progress of the development of the legal system concerning cultural heritage, and Mr. Pema Wangchuk of DCHS made a presentation on the prospects for the protection of traditional houses and settlements. Participants shared the recent challenges and dilemmas concerning the protection of cultural heritage in Bhutan through their presentations and the subsequent discussion. The subject of the field survey scheduled for this August was also discussed, and the specific survey method has been almost fixed.
In the case study tour, we visited the Ozaki family residence (Yurihama, Tottori), which is undergoing conservation work, and the Open Air Museum of Old Farm Houses (Toyonaka, Osaka) where typical traditional houses from all over Japan have been collected to study basic concepts of the protection of traditional houses as cultural property in Japan. We also visited historic towns and villages where historic townscapes have been rehabilitated, namely Shikano (Tottori), Oyacho-Osugi, Sasayama, Fukusumi (all above, Hyogo), and Miyamacho-Kita (Kyoto), to spread knowledge about community involvement and heritage tourism where traditional houses can be utilized as accommodation. The invitees were particularly interested in the nongovernmental management of cultural heritage that should be treated under the new law in Bhutan, and there was a lively exchange of views and opinions with the local presenters at each site.
We would like to extend our deep appreciation to all the people involved in the tour for providing this opportunity.
Training for “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation” Held in the Republic of Turkey
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted the training for “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation” last June 11th–15th, 2019. The training targeted conservators and restorers from national conservation and restoration centers in the Republic of Turkey.
Following the inspection of the result of the workshop for experiments with restoration materials conducted in the previous training program, teachers from a wide range of specialty fields such as geology, structural design engineering, and art history were invited to the final training program (4th training program). The teachers were requested to consider comprehensive emergency procedures from the perspective of the various elements comprising the rock-hewn church, including the wall paintings, as forming a complex of cultural heritage. To verify what participants learned, fieldwork involving the creation of a hypothetical project plan to make emergency procedures on the wall paintings found at Ala Church in the Ihlara Valley was included in the training activity. On the last day, the training course came up with three themes arrived at based on the information gathered on the site: “environmental conservation,” “wall painting techniques and materials,” and “wall painting damage and emergency measure.” A discussion on the content of the presentations on these themes ensued. Following the training course, a questionnaire passed among the participants revealed a common sentiment: ”we reaffirm the importance of ’maintenance,‘ which we have largely ignored during the performance of our daily work duties.“
Over the course of three years, this project that has sought to improve the conservation and management system for wall paintings in the Republic of Turkey has today reached a milestone. While nurturing the network created between Japan and the Republic of Turkey in the course of this project, we hope to continue our endeavors aimed at contributing to the conservation of cultural heritage.
Regarding the Notes by Researcher Takurei HIRAKO: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
Takurei HIRANO (1877–1911) is a Buddhist art researcher who was active between the 1890s and the 1900s. He began working for the Tokyo Imperial Museum (present day Tokyo National Museum) from 1903 and was active in the front lines of research at that time, such as through his involvement in the issue of rebuilding Horyuji Temple. He died young at the age of 35 in 1911.
In 2014, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties received some materials in the possession of Takurei’s sculptor friend Taketaro SHINKAI (1868–1927) which included Takurei’s research notes. At the seminar which was held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on May 31st, 2019, Dr. Tetsuei TSUDA (Aoyama Gakuin University) gave a presention on these research notes from the perspective of Buddhist art history titled, “Introduction to Research Materials: The Notes of Takurei HIRAKO Housed at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties.”
These notes include numerous sketches of Buddhist statues and paintings that Takuei drew at various temples in the Kansai area. Among them are detailed drawings of Buddhist statues that have now been lost and are a valuable resource for today’s researchers. In a notebook bound in Japanese style titled Kogeishiso can be found the inscription on a Buddhist statue thought to have been recorded by Takurei during its disassembly and repair. This is an example of rare information that cannot be discovered without performing similar repairs on Buddhist statues.
After Dr. TSUDA’s presentation, Dr. Shuji TANAKA (Oita University) a specialist on modern sculpture described the relationship between Taketaro SHINKAI and Takurei, and Ms. Junko ONISHI (Tokyo University of the Arts) who is knowledgeable about the modern history of Buddhist art research described the network of researchers surrounding Takurei at the time, and information was shared. Dr. Yuzo MARUKAWA (National Museum of Ethnology) a specialist on informatics also participated in a discussion on how this material should be released and applied.
The “Tokyo Shishimai Collection 2020” event was held on May 11th and 12th (Saturday and Sunday), 2019, in the Front Garden of the Tokyo National Museum. This event was planned by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and was held as part of Japan Cultural Expo, an arts and culture festival that will coincide with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. It was co-sponsored by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, the Tokyo National Museum, and the Japan Arts Council, in cooperation with tateito-yokoito llc., Culture Vision Japan Foundation Inc., and DO CREATION CO., LTD. The purpose of this event was to showcase lion dances from all over Japan as folk art which prominently expresses Japan Cultural Expo’s theme of “the Japanese and Nature”, and to transmit this to the world by performing the lion dances in Tokyo.
Lion dance performances, particularly from the three prefectures stricken by the Great East Japan Earthquake, were involved in this 2020 pre-event. During the two days, three lion dances were performed by three prefectures: Iwate Prefecture performed Rikuzentakata City’s “Tsukizawa Toramai (Tiger Dance)” (Tsukizawa Arts Preservation Society); Miyagi Prefecture performed Onagawa Town’s “Shishifuri (Lion Dance)” (Takenoura Lion Dance Preservation Society/Washinokami Kumano Shrine Lion Dance General Meeting), and Fukushima Prefecture performed Shinchi Town’s “Fukuda Juuni Kagura (Twelve Kinds of Sacred Music and Dancing Performed at Shrines)” (Fukuda Twelve Kinds of Sacred Music and Dancing Preservation Society). According to a count by the Tokyo National Museum, 2215 people attended the six shows during the two-day event.
In addition to watching the performances, many spectators participated in a hands-on learning experience by having the opportunity to actually touch the lion masks and musical instruments that ordinarily cannot be seen up close, and hearing explanations about the lion dances. Foreign language pamphlets were provided and bilingual staff was prepared so that visitors from various countries could enjoy the shows.
On a similar note, a Lion Dance Forum is planned for September of this year. In addition to holding lion dance performances in Tokyo, information about lion dance festivals and events held in various regions of Japan will be released to give many more people the opportunity to visit the regions where lion dance festivals are performed. In order to preserve intangible cultural heritage, this kind of information transmission and networking is crucial.
The 2nd workshop for specialists on the new insecticidal treatment for historical wooden buildings, known as “humidity-controlled warm-air treatment,” was held on May 9th, 2019.
Pest-borne damage to historical wooden buildings risks not only the loss of important wooden materials but also building safety, as the wooden materials can become hollow, thus weakening the strength of the lumber construction material and the building itself. In response to severe pest-borne damage, the Rinno-Ji Temple at Nikko has undergone closure and repair. Fumigation with sulfuryl fluoride gas, which is known to have almost no effect on cultural properties, was performed to eradicate all noxious pests in the building. However, there are huge health and safety risks associated with the use of mass fumigation with poisonous chemical substances, and such treatment can also dissuade neighboring institutions from opening to the public.
To address this issue, humidity-controlled warm-air treatment was developed as a new insecticidal treatment. This method eliminates pests by increasing the temperature to 60 degrees Celsius while regulating the humidity without altering the water content of the wood, thus minimizing any damage to the wooden content. Two successful domestic cases have been reported with no significant damage found in buildings containing Urushi (Japanese lacquer) decorations. Subsequent examination of these cases indicates that the technology used in this new treatment is nearly ideal. Nevertheless, concerns have been raised regarding the number of technicians required and the cost involved, which must be addressed before formally establishing humidity-controlled warm-air treatment as a valid insecticidal treatment. Also, since this a newly developed treatment, its long-term performance is difficult to evaluate; there may be as yet unknown effects inherent in the use of this treatment.
Several issues must be resolved before humidity-controlled warm-air treatment can be considered to be an established insecticidal treatment method. We look forward to working over the long-term in cooperation with related organizations.
Exchange of Opinions at the Tirana University and Inspection of Wall Paintings Located at the Historic Center of Berat, Albania
From May 19th to 23rd, 2019, members of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation visited the Tirana University and the Historic Center of Berat, Albania. The aim was to build an international networks with specialists in the field of cultural heritage conservation / restoration and gather international information.
At the Tirana University, Professor Edlira Çaushi spoke about the current state of system for educating students in the field of cultural heritage conservation. In the Historic Center of Berat, we visited Berat Castle and inspected the techniques and the state of conservation of wall paintings in churches built between the 13th and 16th centuries. We were extremely impressed with the quality of the wall paintings, which were painted in the post-Byzantine style, developed after the end of the Byzantine Empire with the fall of Constantinople (present day Istanbul) in 1453. Although it was clear that past restorations had taken place, the wall paintings have been inappropriately maintained thereafter and have again incurred major damage. Professor Edlira Çaushi discussed how one of the major problems in today’s Albania was the weak initiatives taken in relation to the maintenance of cultural heritage.
Currently, the maintenance protocols undertaken on cultural heritage in various regions of Albania has come under scrutiny. Hereafter, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation will continue to gather information and exchange opinions with international specialists to consider how Japan may offer assistance to resolve this problem.
An art catalogue is a brochure that is created in advance for selling items in individual and family collections at auction houses. It is an important resource listing the names and photographs of artworks that have been sold. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties possesses 2,565 art catalogues, the largest collection among public agencies. Until now, the Institute has enabled the public to view this art catalogue information at its Library, by attaching photographs to cards. However, as the storage conditions of the original art catalogues were bad, the Institute, in collaboration with the Tokyo Art Club, began a project to convert these art catalogues into digital format from 2015 (see the April 2015 monthly report). Through the support of the Tokyo Art Club and many others, the project was completed after approximately 4 years of hard work and is now being opened to the public as a digital archive.
The art catalogues recorded in the digital archive were created before World War II, including 2,328 catalogues in the collection of the Institute and 309 catalogues in the collection of the Tokyo Art Club for a total of 2,637 catalogues. In principle, the artworks selected for digital recording were those that were listed in art catalogues together with an image photograph, about 375,500 of which exist at this point in time. The digital archive is classified into bibliographic information and artwork information. Bibliographic information is information according to an art catalogue, whereas artwork information is information on individual artworks that can be viewed together with their photographic images. The Art Catalogue Digital Archive is open to the public during regular operating hours of the Library at the Institute, using a dedicated terminal. A variety of bits of information can be perused, and images and lists can be printed out for a fee (10 yen/page for black-and-white print outs and 50 yen/page for color print outs).
Art Critic Archives: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
It can be said that what plays a major role in the world of visual arts is each piece of art created by an artist. However, it is also true that such people as artists, critics, and researchers talking with each other over pieces of art to value them comprise an essential part of the entire visual art world. The numerous remarks delivered by such people are important clues to understanding the visual arts in the era. Akihiko TAKAMI (born in 1955) who passed away suddenly at the age of 55 in 2011 was among the critics who devoted themselves to art criticism. At a seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on April 23rd, 2019, Mr. Koji KUROKAWA from Sakura City Museum of Art made a presentation about Takami’s activities as an aggressive critic.
Mr. Kurokawa’s presentation titled “Art Critic Akihiko Takami’s Activities and Archives” was based on his careful investigation of many source materials in Takami’s archives such as manuscripts written by Takami and letters he exchanged with artists. The remaining preserved copies of Takami’s letters to artists show that he supported many young artists in their creative activities by spontaneously organizing exhibitions as a planner while writing several reviews in magazines such as BIJUTSUTECHO. At the seminar, the participants including Mr. Toshiya MOTAI, an artist who had a close relationship with Takami, openly discussed how these archives should be utilized going forward while tracing the footsteps of Akihiko Takami as an art critic. Many of the archives contain some information about artists or critics currently active in the art world and thus careful consideration must be given before disclosing them in some cases. During the discussion, the participants including Mr. Motai expressed their thoughts from different standpoints and it was a good opportunity to find a way to handle and effectively use Akihiko Takami’s archives.
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems creates digital contents of any artworks investigated and studied at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties to release those at the Library. We began releasing the digital content of “Kichijoten” (Beauty Goddess; National Treasure), owned in Yakushiji Temple in Nara. “Kichijoten” is the oldest existing picture and considered to have been created at Yakushiji Temple as the principal image for Kichijo-keka (confession of faults to Kichijoten). It is well known as a rare painting from the Nara period. The Institute conducted a joint research with the Nara National Museum, and we created this digital content according to the report on the research results issued in 2008. The dedicated computer in the Library shows the research results, such as the high-resolution color image, fluorescence image, near infrared image, X-ray image, and the results of the analysis of coloring material using X-ray fluorescence technologies. This computer may only be used for academic or research purposes and copying or printing the digital content is prohibited. However, you may freely access the large amount of artwork information containing a variety of digital images. The dedicated computer for viewing images is available during the opening hours of the Library. Please refer to the following URL for the instructions for use:
Spiderwort-dyed paper is a type of Japanese paper, which is soaked in the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals. The paper is used as a dyestuff to make rough sketches during the production of Yuzen-dyed fabrics. From 2016 to 2017, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage in association with Kusatsu City, Shiga Prefecture conducted a joint research on the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique and, in 2018, published a project report titled, “Joint Research Report on the Spiderwort-dyed Paper Production Technique: Kusatsu Techniques that Form the Backbone of Textile Dyeing Technology” (DVD included).
This report was compiled by staff from Kusatsu-juku Kaido Koryukan in association with researchers from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and included the following studies: a record of the techniques employed by three producers of spiderwort-dyed paper; a study on the soil in which Asiatic dayflowers are cultivated and the preservation of the extract from Asiatic dayflower petals; a study on the Japanese paper that is used to make spiderwort-dyed paper; a study of ancient documents relating to spiderwort-dyed paper; a questionnaire survey of producers and users of spiderwort-dyed paper; and a study on the positioning of spiderwort-dyed paper as a cultural heritage. The data obtained from this joint project is being stored in cooperation with Kusatsu City and can be applied in future research.
Beginning from this year, Kusatsu City is implementing measures to safeguard the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique. Techniques for producing materials used in intangible cultural heritage are sometimes appraised as techniques to safeguard cultural heritage (Selected Conservation Techniques). In addition, spiderwort-dyed paper will likely be appraised as a regional folk cultural asset of Kusatsu. We hope that this report will inform many more people about the spiderwort-dyed paper production technique and will engender lively discussion toward its safeguarding.
Many museums frequently ask for our advice on how to reduce the concentration of ammonia and acetic acid kept inside their repositories and exhibition cases. Ammonia accelerates discoloration of oil paintings, while acetic acid badly erodes metallic goods, especially artifacts and coins containing lead. This work is indispensable for preserving cultural assets.
This guide, edited by the Preventive Conservation Section, is the fruit of research on display environment for preservation and utilization. You can read it from April 2019 in the notice exhibited on the first page of Center for Conservation Science on the website of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (in Japanese). We have intended to provide content covering the basic knowledge of air cleaning, monitoring pollutions, and their countermeasures so that all kinds of people can use the guide, including curators, workers entrusted with controlling air conditioning, and researchers. The end of the guide presents “frequently asked questions” with an easy access to the pages referred to in the answers. The appendix explains concrete processes of measuring methods using many pictures. We have also provided reference books and documents for those who want to know more details.
It will be our pleasure if this can help improve the environment of museums.
International Symposium: “Transmitting the Heritage of the Mesopotamian Civilization to Future Generations: The Challenge of Restoring Post-War Iraq through History Education”
On Saturday April 13th, 2019, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, in cooperation with the Japanese-Iraqi Institute for Archaeological Education of Mesopotamia (JIAEM), convened the international symposium titled “Transmitting the Heritage of the Mesopotamian Civilization to Future Generations: The Challenge of Restoring Post-War Iraq through History Education.”
The purpose of this symposium was to help in the understanding of what kind of specific support is sought in the fields of history education and cultural heritage preservation in Iraq, a country that has begun moving toward restoration.
JIAEM representative Dr. Tatsundo KOIZUMI reported on the state of the ruins of the Mesopotamian civilization when he visited Iraq in the spring of 2017. For his part, Masashi ABE from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties talked about the training of Iraqi specialists for conservation that the Institute has been conducting for many years. Dr. Hiromichi OGUCHI of Kokushikan University, on the other hand, spoke about the Iraq archaeological survey being conducted by his university since 1969. Dr. Mariya MASUBUCHI of the Kyoto University of Art and Design and Mr. Tomoyuki SAKAKIBARA of JIAEM gave presentations on the importance of manpower training in the field of cultural heritage preservation and on the state of archaeological educational support, respectively.
Guest speakers included Professor Emad Dawood and Professor Naeem Alshwaly, who are both pedagogy experts from the University of Thi-Qar located in Nasiriyah, the birthplace of the Mesopotamian civilization. They gave lectures on the understanding of local students and teachers in Iraq toward the heritage of the Mesopotamian civilization and what kind of support is being sought from Japan.
Finally, worth noting is how the attendees, including the guest speakers, engaged in a lively discussion about how Japan should be involved in Iraq’s cultural heritage preservation, history education, and manpower training. We hope that this symposium will serve as a first step toward international cooperation to restore post-war Iraq.
The Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems creates digital content involving investigative research on artworks pursued by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and displays the content in the Library. The digital content of “Saichufu (Compendium of Vegetables and Insects)” (important cultural property) by ITO Jakuchu in the collection of the Yoshizawa Memorial Museum of Art, Sano (https://www.city.sano.lg.jp/museum/) has now been completed. A dedicated terminal can be used to view the results of color material studies through high-definition color images, near-infrared images, and fluorescent X-ray analysis. While they can only be viewed for academic and research purposes and copies cannot be made, an abundant amount of information on artworks can be freely referenced by applying digital image characteristics. “Saichufu” is the only silk scroll color painting by ITO Jakuchu in existence. The painting depicts approximately 100 species of vegetables and fruits and over 50 species of insects and amphibians, and is known for its delicate and quaint expressiveness. The image viewing terminal can be used during the hours when the Library is operational. Please refer to the following link if you would like to use it:
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has become a member of the NACSIS-CAT/ILL Catalog Information Service. It has prepared a system for uploading the bibliographic data on book stored at each of its research departments (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Center for Conservation Science, and the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation) to CiNii Books (https://ci.nii.ac.jp/books/).
The purpose of joining NACSIS-CAT is twofold: (1) the widespread visualization of collected book information; and (2) the improvement of our bibliographic data (standardization). With respect to (1), we will further promote the use of our collected book information released at TOBUNKEN Research Collections (http://www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/) on the Institute’s official site by releasing it to many more researchers and students via upload to CiNii Books. With respect to (2), we have been requested to create a highly effective system by standardizing bibliographic data provided by us through data tie-ups with outside agencies (The Getty Research Institute and OCLC. etc.). As NACSIS-CAT allows users to reference and utilize various domestic and overseas library catalog data, it is an infrastructure system suitable for the Institute to efficiently engage in standardization work.
The task of uploading 300,000 books from our library to CiNii Books and standardizing bibliographic data is currently underway. While this will take some time until completion, we will prepare a system of providing our collected books and information that we have collected over many years to contribute to the research activities of many more people.
The Art of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands: Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems
In recent years, neighboring countries such as China, South Korea, and Taiwan have made progress in researching modern and contemporary art, and opportunities to view this progress, such as at exhibitions, have increased in Japan. However, brisk artistic activities have largely been unheard of in the North of Japan, even in regions such as Sakhalin which is presently Russian territory. Mr. Hisashi YAKOU’s (Hokkaido University) presentation at a seminar held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems on March 26th entitled, “The Art of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands” was very fascinating as he described artistic trends in this region based on field work after the Second World War.
As Sakhalin was a Japanese territory prior to the Second World War, the landscape was depicted by Japanese painters such as Shoji KIMURA (1905–91) and Kojiro FUNAZAKI (1900–87). It became a territory of the Soviet Union after the war, and Russian painters created motifs based on this region. The painter Givi Mantkava (1930–2003) who moved there from Georgia depicted the landscape of the Far East, applying a modernistic technique and laid the foundation of Sakhalin art. Numerous artists from Moscow and Vladivostok visited Kunashir (Kunashiri) Island and Shikotan Island. Among them, the activities of the Shikotan Group attracted particular attention as they spent several months of almost every summer in Shikotan Island from 1966 to 1991. Of their works, landscape paintings of Mt. Chachadake on Kunashir Island and the bay area in particular are suggestive of traditional western paintings themes, for example, on a view of Naples. Mr. YAKOU made the intriguing point that there may exist a political intent in terms of the Europeanization of the border area.
The 3rd Research Conference of the Japan Society for Digital Archive was held from March 15th to 16th, 2019 at the Yoshida Campus in Kyoto University. Three employees from Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties attended the conference to make a poster presentation concerning the cultural property information database and gather information on recent trends in digital archives.
The poster presentation showed the publications archive, which is a database primarily for the collected materials and publications of the Institute. The “Yearbook of Japanese Art” and “TOBUNKEN Research Collections” (www.tobunken.go.jp/archives/) which are published and released using the archive system were also described, focusing on the archive’s construction and management. We exchanged opinions with parties concerned with digital archives, and the presentation was a precious opportunity to understand the kind of cultural property information database that is demanded of us. We reacknowledged how we provide basic information that contributes to cultural property research.
By participating in the research presentation, we gathered wide-ranging information was collected on digital archives in general, not just cultural properties. We gained knowledge of technical issues and system issues related to digital archives, as well as local research and utilization of digital archives by the community. In recent years, there has been a trend toward digital archive collaboration. This conference became a good opportunity for us to consider external provisioning and tie-ups with outside information sources and not simply transmit information on cultural property.
The program for the 3rd Research Conference of the Japan Society for Digital Archive can be found at the following website.
Field Activities for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia (Part V)
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties provides technical support to the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA) to conserve and manage the ruins of the Ta Nei Temple in Angkor, Cambodia. The fifth field study was conducted at this site from March 8th to 17th, 2019.
Three-dimensional (3D) measurements of the east gate were recorded and a topographical survey around the site was conducted with the assistance of Associate Professor Takeshi OISHI’s laboratory in the Institute of Industrial Science, the University of Tokyo, and survey expert Mr. Kenji UCHIDA, in association with the APSARA staff.
Although the east gate is the original main gate of this temple, it is away from the current traffic line for tourists. As many of the constituent building materials are unstable, appropriate repairs must be made from the perspective of the exhibition. The measurements were performed using a laser scanner and a drone equipped with a camera to capture detailed 3D recordings of the gate as well as the position and shape of stones scattered in the vicinity. Based on the information obtained, the state of deformation and damage will be comprehensively grasped and applied to consider specific repair plans.
A topographical survey was conducted using a total station mainly on the southeastern area of the site, which had not been surveyed thus far. Using the collected data, a detailed topographical map of the overall site can be created, which will contribute to maintaining the temple area and can be applied to the surrounding temples over a wide range.
Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 12)
As part of the above-mentioned project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) continues to support the building of an administrative network to preserve historic settlements in Nepal. The “2nd Mayors’ Forum on Conservation of Historic Settlements in Kathmandu and Kavre Valley” was held in Lalitpur Metropolitan City on March 12th, 2019, under the joint auspices of Lalitpur municipality and TNRICP, which dispatched eight researchers.
At the 1st Mayors’ Forum held in Panauti in 2017, the state of preserving historic settlements and related issues were shared and discussed. The theme of the second forum was “conservation of tangible and intangible cultural heritage in historic settlements.” Presentations were given by experts from Nepal and Japan and a discussion was held with the attendees. On the day in question, around 80 people, including 11 mayors, 8 deputy mayors, and several government-affiliated engineers, participated from 14municipalities.
From the Nepal side, presentations were given on festivals and intangible cultural heritage such as festivals and craftworks in four municipalities and initiatives to pass them on to future generations as well as historic settlement surveys and conservation initiatives after the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake. From the Japan side, Tomoko MORI, Associate Professor at Sapporo City University, presented the survey results from Khokana village, while Hiromichi KUBOTA, Head of the Intangible Folk Cultural Properties Section of TNRICP, presented the survey results of intangible cultural heritage in Khokana and the state of conserving intangible cultural heritage in Japan.
Both countries have common issues in conserving local cultural heritage, such as lack of personnel and funding. In Nepal, as changes in traditional local communities accelerate, a sustainable framework for conserving cultural heritage in local communities and appropriate support from the local government under the leadership of mayors are essential.
We will continue to provide technical assistance while sharing information and deepening dialogue between the two countries.
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) is providing technological support to restore the door panels of Wat Rajpradit (built in 1864), a first-grade royal Buddhist temple located in Bangkok, Thailand, at the request of this temple and the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture of Thailand. Lacquerwork produced by employing the “mother-of-pearl with underpaint” technique, which was used to make these door panels, was primarily exported to the West in the 19th century. However, TNRICP confirmed for the first time that these door panels were Japan-made, on the basis of the technique and materials utilized, indicating that Japan-made mother-of-pearl with underpaint had also been exported to Thailand.
Restoration work is not just the behavior of repairing damage but should also be an opportunity to better understand the cultural property concerned. When it was discovered that the door panels at Wat Rajpradit were Japan-made, there were reports of works made with a similar technique at several locations in Thailand. A careful inspection was conducted, which included detailed record-making through polarized light photography of a portion of these works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint located in Bangkok, such as the door panels at Wat Nang Chi, a temple maintained in its present form since the reign of King Rama III (1824–1851), and the cover plates of the palm leaf manuscripts stored at the National Library of Thailand. The study was performed from January 27th to February 2nd, 2019, in association with experts from related Japanese and Thai agencies.
Even among Japan-exported lacquerwork, there are few cases of scientific research being pursued into works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint, and its background is unclear. Palm leaf manuscripts are palm leaves on which sutras or other documents are written, and bound with string. A pair of cover plates are used to protect palm leaf manuscripts. As palm leaf manuscripts are unique to Southeast Asia and South Asia, it is surmised that the cover plates, as with the door panels, were produced after an order was placed from Thailand. There is great potential for works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint found in Thailand, such as the door panels at Wat Rajpradit and Wat Nang Chi, to contribute to research into this technique itself, and studies will continue to be pursued in Japan and Thailand.
Presentations at the “Present State of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives and Their Application” Symposium
The symposium “Present State of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives and Their Application” was held at Suwako Museum and Akahiko Memorial Hall in Shimosuwa Town, Nagano Prefecture, on February 16th, 2019. Hideki KIKKAWA of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems gave a presentation entitled “Application of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives to Art History Research: Examples of Two Avant-Garde Art Events Held in Suwa City in 1951.”
This symposium was held as part of the “Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives Application Project,” an initiative implemented in association with local communities in order to support the creation of art galleries and history museums, which was led by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2018. It was sponsored by the archives application committee comprising members from Yutaka MATSUZAWA’s surviving family members, volunteers, and Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum. In the first part of the symposium, presentations related to the archives were delivered by six people: Haruo MATSUZAWA (Executive Director of the General Incorporated Foundation MATSUZAWA Yutaka Psi Room), Arata TANI (art critic), Yoshiko SHIMADA (artist), Kenya HIRAGA (Director of Nagano Prefectural Library), and Hideki KIKKAWA. In the second part of the symposium, a discussion moderated by Toru MATSUMOTO (Director of the Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum) was held, in which participants expressed their views on the archives’ application and exchanged opinions on their application from the perspective of their respective expertise.
The Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives comprise a vast amount of precious materials from the 1950s to the 2000s. In applying them toward the art history research mentioned in this symposium, the theme for grants-in-aid for scientific research “Research into Post-1968 Expressive Community: Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives as the Cornerstone” (Basic Research ©, FY2018–2020) will continue to be pursued in association with researchers from diverse fields.