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


Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 12)

The 2nd Mayors’ Forum

 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.


A Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 11)

Investigating a sample from target building
Sample with the finishing layer from each period carved out in tiers

 As part of this project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government, a compositional analysis of the finishing layer of a group of buildings adjacent to Aganchen Temple at Hanumandhoka Palace, Kathmandu, was performed using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, etc., from February 22nd to 28th, 2019, with permission from the Department of Archaeology, Government of Nepal.
 On-site surveys conducted so far have revealed that a number of extensions and structural alterations had been made to these buildings. In particular, the wall finish recoating history and the remaining finishing layers at hidden areas of retrofitted support members are important clue in learning about the changes to the buildings. Study on the specifications and coloring of each recoated layer has continued.
 This time, the composing materials of the finishing layers were identified in order to understand how specifications changed according to the times, and a scientific analysis was performed using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and a Raman spectrometry system to examine the history of extensions and structural alterations.
 A fragment of the finishing layers investigated comprised a maximum of 10 different sets of layers. Surface and undercoat layers from each period were carved out in tiers and analyzed.
 Red iron oxide and minute amounts of gold were confirmed in red-colored areas of the old mural painting layer, and a spectrum quite similar to lapis lazuli was derived from the sky-blue finishing layer recoated in later years. While a detailed analysis of the derived data has yet to be performed, it can be inferred from the use of such precious materials that these buildings had continued to be used as important ritual or residential spaces for a royal family since their initial construction in the 17th century.
 In the process of surveying the remains, a mural painting was discovered behind the extended wall section, and it is possible that this mural dates back to a period just after the original construction of the building. Further surveys, including through scientific methods, such as the one used this time, and studies of appropriate preservation measures are still needed.
 Hereafter, we will continue to elucidate the history concealed in the buildings themselves, and while preserving such significant material evidence, we will consider how to go about restoring these buildings in association with the Nepalese counterpart.


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