1th Seminar on Traditional Restoration Materials and Synthetic Resins: “Deterioration of Metals Used on Urushi Objects”
The Technical Standard Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques held a seminar entitled “Deterioration of Metals Used on Urushi Objects” in the Seminar Room of the Institute on February 27 (Wednesday). In addition to lectures by Kitano of the Technical Standard Section and Ms. Sano Chie of the Conservation Science Section, three persons were invited and asked to speak: Mr. Takahashi Takahiro, professor at the Kansai University and the director of the Kansai University Museum; Mr. Kitamura Shosai, an urushi artist and a Holder of Important Intangible Cultural Property (Living National Treasure); and Mr. Naruse Masakazu of the Office of the Shosoin Treasure House, Imperial Household Agency. Recently, deterioration of metals like makie powder and fukurin (metal coverings) on urushi objects is becoming a subject of discussion. Perhaps for that reason, there were many participants at this seminar in spite of the fact that it was held toward the end of the fiscal year, a very busy time for everyone.
At the seminar, Kitano first spoke on excavated makie objects of the modern period (17th – mid-19th centuries) on which there is severe deterioration. Then Mr. Takahashi explained the history of urushi objects using metals in Japan, China and the Korean Peninsula from the point of view of the history of urushi craft, and the methods of their manufacture. He also spoke on some points related to environmental conditions in museums. This was followed by a valuable presentation, from the point of view of a conservator, by Mr. Kitamura on the restoration and reproduction of urushi objects designated as national treasures and important cultural properties that he himself had been engaged in. He introduced details that only someone who has actually worked on these objects could know. Next, Mr. Naruse spoke about the results of analysis of metals used on urushi objects from the ancient to the medieval periods, focusing on urushi objects in the collection of Shosoin, as well as on the conditions of their deterioration. Finally, from the point of view of conservation science, Ms. Sano spoke on the relation between deterioration of metals and the conservation environment in museums and the use of wooden storage boxes. Since the presentations by the three invited speakers were based on actual work, they were very convincing and there were many questions from the participants.