|■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
Research on the folklore pertaining to wall painting iconography
Investigation to evaluate the state of wall paintings damaged by pests
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties is providing technical support and human resource training to restore wall paintings and the exterior walls of brick temples at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar. The decision to register Bagan as a world cultural heritage site was made at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2019. In response to this decision, the “Bagan International Coordinating Committee (BICC)” was set up to work on improving the conservation system. The Committee is making arrangements for holding an international conference annually for information sharing and mutual adjustment so as to better utilize the initiatives taken in each support-providing country.
To collect information on such changes in local situations, we visited the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar (Naypyidaw) and the Bagan branch of the Department of Archaeology and National Museums from January 15th through 31st, 2020, and exchanged opinions on the direction of the future cooperative project. Responding to expectations of further technical assistance to local experts, we agreed to continue with our support activities.
In addition, research on the folklore pertaining to wall painting iconography was conducted following the previous one in July 2019. On-site investigation was also carried out to evaluate the state of wall paintings damaged by pests and to discuss countermeasures. With respect to the iconographic research, we gathered information showing the relation between the acceptance of Buddhism and an indigenous belief specific to Myanmar from local intellectuals. Also, to find the influence of the indigenous belief on wall paintings, we collected detailed examples primarily from Bagan. We now plan to expand the scope of this research beyond Bagan. Furthermore, the investigation of wall paintings damaged by pests revealed their destruction by termites and potter wasps. Therefore, we plan to conduct detailed research to establish countermeasures suitable to the local environment.
The Institute will continue providing technical support and undertaking research activities based on the opinions of local experts for comprehensive conservation of cultural properties at the Bagan Archaeological Site.
Church of Santa Maria Paganica (La chiesa di Santa Maria Paganica) in L’Aquila
Well-Maintained Street at Pompeii
Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties has been providing technical assistance to Myanmar for its restoration project covering the areas devastated by the earthquake in 2016, as well as the conservation and restoration work for the wall painting at the Bagan Ruins. During our visit to Italy on October 9th-27th, 2019, we conducted surveys in L’Aquila City and Pompeii Ruins, where post-quake reconstruction activities and conservation efforts have been in progress, so as to emulate the model in the improvement plan for Bagan.
Reconstruction activities have been continuing in L’Aquila even 10 years after an earthquake struck the Abruzzo Region in 2009. According to the experts engaged in the project there, around 50% of the affected areas have just been reconstructed. Since many of the devastated building structures have murals and decorative stucco, the restoration planning requires multiple points of view. As a result, the complicated project delayed the progress of the restoration work. However, since the reconstruction activities took these aspects into consideration, the conservation of the historical landscape has been remarkable.
On the other hand, the maintenance project covering a vast area at the Pompeii Ruins has been underway for more than 100 years. We exchanged opinions with the Archaeological Superintendency of Pompeii on how we should deal with conservation and restoration policies as times change, as well as the difficulties in the comprehensive maintenance of the entire site.
In this survey, we reconfirmed the importance of planning from a comprehensive viewpoint for the conservation and restoration of cultural property consisting of multiple elements. To pass down the vast site to the coming generation, maintenance effort, which is the best way to minimize the burden on the cultural heritage, is important. In the field survey planned for Bagan in January 2020, we will report the outcomes of these surveys, while also repeatedly consulting with local experts about protection activities suitable for the ruins.
Hands-on training at the site to restore the wall paintings
Surveying the wall paintings
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is providing technical support and human resource training to restore wall paintings and the exterior walls of brick temples at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar. On-site training session for staff members of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar was conducted at two different temples from July 11th to July 27th, 2019.
At Me-taw-ya Temple, a training session on how to repair exterior wall joint material, replace deteriorated bricks, and mix repair materials was carried out. Drainage measures were discussed as accumulated rainwater dissolved the existing wall joint material and resulted in water seeping into the temple.
At Loka-hteik-pan Temple (project name: Conservation and Restoration of Temples Mural Paintings in the Bagan Ruins in Myanmar), where restoration activities were conducted in association with the Sumitomo Foundation, problems created by past repairs—commonly noticed in temple wall paintings of the Bagan Ruins—were explained, and training sessions on reinforcing colored layers using inorganic repair materials and repairing colors were organized.
Research on the folklore pertaining to wall painting iconography began alongside this training program. To explain the non-Buddhist elements and characteristics specific to Myanmar found on wall paintings, detailed examples were collected primarily from Bagan. Information on the historical background of each of these wall paintings was also gathered from the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar employees and related people from these temples. Hereafter, we plan to expand the scope of this research beyond Bagan.
The decision to register Bagan as a world cultural heritage site was made at the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee. As tourists are expected to increase in the future, efforts to maintain the relics must be improved. This issue was raised at the expert committee session convened by the Bagan Branch during the support period. Requests were also made to increase participants for the training program sponsored by Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, and for technical instruction at the archaeological sites. Hereafter, the Institute will continue to exchange opinions with local experts and provide technical support and human resource development programs.
Group photo of training course participants
Fieldwork at Ala Church
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.
The wall paintings in the Church of St. Mary Blaherna
The Church inside Berat Castle
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.
(Workshop for young local specialists)
Manuha Temple Group, No.1 Temple
The restoration work implemented from July to August, 2018, at Me-taw-ya (No. 1205) Temple, which is a brick temple at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, was continued during the period from January 14th to February 3rd, 2019, and the outer wall of the brick temple was restored mainly to protect the mural paintings from rain leaks. The restoration of the damaged area caused by the 2016 earthquake is still ongoing in Bagan, and local specialists have asked us for advice on creating repair strategy in line with current conditions and on restoration methods. In response to this request for assistance, we conducted a workshop for five local conservators and five engineers and discussed solutions while listening to their issues.
Meanwhile, we conducted a study on mural painting techniques and iconography in Myanmar. We collected detailed information particularly on works from the heyday of Bagan in the 13th century. We also visited towns such as Amin and Anayn along the Chindwin River, where many mural paintings from the 17th–18th centuries can be found. Research on existing mural paintings in Myanmar has been largely completed and we will reflect the results of the study in the restoration methods.
This time, we heard from some of local specialists that quite a few of continuing international projects for cultural property protection conducted by foreign countries are difficult to actually establish and that few post-earthquake preservation activities lead to a solution of the fundamental problem. While we have implemented our work until now with such awareness, we will put further efforts into proposing more practical improvement measures and transmitting sustainable restoration techniques.
Chiesa rupestre di Sant’Antonio Abate
La Cripta di Santa Maria Degli Angeli
From November 12th through 20th, 2018, we investigated the frescos painted inside the rock-hewn churches in Puglia, Southern Italy. This investigation aims to reflect its outcomes in the training program for the mural paintings inside the rock-hewn churches in Cappadocia as part of the “Human Resource Development Project toward the Improvement of the Conservation and Management System for Mural Paintings in the Republic of Turkey” commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs
We observed Byzantine-style frescos painted on the stone walls inside Cripta di Quandedra and Chiesa rupestre di Sant’Antonio Abate in Massafra, as well as Cripta di Santa Maria Degli Angeli and Cripta dei Santi Stefani di Vaste in Poggiardo. We conducted the investigation by paying attention to their fresco techniques and used materials, as well as their status and current conservation and management conditions with their surrounding environments taken into consideration. Consequently, we found that both Southern Italy and Cappadocia had common conservation and management issues, and that there were actions which had been taken in Italy but not in Turkey.
For this investigation, we asked the experts working for the Opificio delle Pietre Dure di Firenze, who have been cooperating in our training programs, to accompany us and organize the collected information. In the program planned in June 2019, we will tell the trainees under what circumstances the similar wall paintings are placed in Italy to seek better conservation and management approaches after reflecting these investigation results.
Making a presentation on research outcomes
Workshop for experiments with restoration materials
As part of the above-mentioned program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the training for “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation” was conducted at the St. Theodore (Tagar) Church in Cappadocia from October 15th to 20th, 2018. Like the previous training in June, this third training program attracted 30 conservators and restorers from 10 national conservation and restoration centers in the Republic of Turkey.
This training aims to review the existing emergency procedures working as the linchpin to conserve mural paintings in Turkey, as well as to establish the protocol. In this third training program, we conducted experiments for various effective restoration materials to use in emergency procedures from diversified perspectives, and all the trainees verified the results. On the last day of the training, the Head of the Analytical Science Section, Dr. Masahide INUZUKA, delivered a presentation on the research outcomes of the terahertz imaging technology used for wall paintings in the Takamatsuzuka Tumulus at Cappadocia University. During the training, opinions were also exchanged over how mural paintings should be conserved and restored in Japan and Turkey.
The participants commented that they learned a great deal from the process of reverifying the characteristics of the restoration materials with which they were familiar, as well as from knowing the efforts being made for conservation and restoration of wall paintings outside of Turkey, where those opportunities are rare.
The next training will be conducted in June 2019. With the goal of skill enhancement through continued on-the-job training, the trainers and trainees will invest their efforts into establishing the protocol for emergency procedures in Turkey.
Ongoing work at the pagoda dome
Wall painting of Pokala Temple (portion)
From July 11th to August 5th, 2018, we conducted conservation and restoration work on the outer walls of Me-taw-ya Temple (No. 1205), a brick temple at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, aiming primarily to protect the mural paintings from rain. Continuing the work implemented from this January through February, we reviewed the portions damaged by the earthquake in 2016, and considered the restoration methods for stucco decorations and joint fillers that would affect the beauty of its facade. As a result, we successfully indicated how collapsed bricks should be restored together with the materials to be used, which was highly esteemed by the Bagan Branch, the Department of Archaeology and National Museums, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar.
In addition, we continually conducted studies on art history, iconography, and the evolution of mural painting techniques in Myanmar. First, we collected further information on representative mural paintings from the 11th century through the 13th century in Bagan for a greater understanding. Second, we moved to Mandalay from where we visited temples scattered in Inwa, Sagaing, Amarapura, and Kyaukse in order to grasp the features of wall paintings from the 17th century through the 19th century.
During our stay in Myanmar, we visited the Embassy of Japan in Yangon to briefly outline this project. We will share information on our activities to conserve cultural properties in Bagan through regular progress reports.
The plaster being temporarily held on
Preparation of damage illustrations
As part of the above-mentioned program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the training for “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation” was conducted at the St. Theodore (Tagar) Church in Cappadocia from June 25th to 28th, 2018. Similar to the previous year, this second training program attracted 30 conservators and restorers from 10 national conservation and restoration centers in the Republic of Turkey.
This training aims to review the existing emergency procedures working as the linchpin to conserve mural paintings in Turkey, as well as to establish the protocol. For this training, the conservation status of the frescoes painted inside the rock-hewn church was carefully observed for recording, and the plaster with flaking risks was temporarily held on. On the last day of the training, the techniques and materials used as emergency measures were discussed with the trainees.
As for the first seminar held in October 2017, introductory lectures on basic concepts in conservation and restoration of wall paintings were delivered. This practical training allowed the trainees to experience concrete intervention methods while contemplating which specific emergency measures would work under the framework of the previous seminar. The trainees commented that the objective of the training became clearer due to this on-site training.
The next training will be conducted in October 2018. Aiming for the skill enhancement through the continued on-the-job training, the trainers and trainees will invest much effort into the establishment of the protocol for emergency procedures in Turkey.
Mural painting exhibited at the Museo Egizio in Turin
Exterior view of the Santuario della Madonna d'Ongero
From April 19th through April 29th, 2018, members of Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation visited the Museo Egizio in Turin, Italy, and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Southern Switzerland (SUPSI) in Switzerland to collect information about the international scene and build a network with international institutions.
At the Museo Egizio in Turin, curators, managers for registration of works, and restorers gathered to talk about the concrete efforts made for maintenance and management of their collected items, as well as for their conservation and restoration. At the SUPSI, we delivered a lecture on the projects undertaken by the Center for professors and students of the University. In addition, guided by Ms. Giacinta Jean, Course Director in Conservation, we visited the research facilities of the University and the Santuario della Madonna d’Ongero, on whose stucco-work, study and research were conducted by the University. Ms. Giacinta Jean explained how the concept of conserving cultural properties worked in Switzerland and the current status of its conservation activities.
In the conservation and restoration of cultural properties, it is important to enrich our insight while collecting information from various areas, as well as to repeatedly exchange opinions on how to resolve problems and maintain and manage cultural properties. This is vital because such efforts will help us in retaining an objective attitude toward cultural heritage and viewing it with an open mind without allowing for subjective eyes.
Also, during these visits, we made discoveries and found research themes through opinion exchange, which we could hardly have done during the regular activities. Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation will continually reinforce international cooperative relationships, putting much effort into building a network with international institutions.
Dismantling and restoring of a damaged spire
Field study of art history and iconography
From January 23rd to February 13th, 2018, we carried out conservation and restoration work on the outer walls of Me-taw-ya Temple (No.1205), a brick temple at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, aiming primarily at protecting mural paintings from rain leaks. Our work during this mission focused on restoring the pinnacle’s of the temple damaged by the earthquake on August 24th, 2016, as well as conserving and restoring the stucco decorations left on the dome of pagoda. While in Bagan, we also held a workshop for young conservators at the request of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar. In this workshop, we provided technical training on how to use restoration materials, with the aim of helping young conservators to better understand the characteristics and effects of each restoration material through actual restoration processes.
In addition, we conducted studies on art history, iconography and the evolution of mural painting techniques in Myanmar, Since we were finished, for the time being, with the studies on mural paintings from the 11th to 13th centuries, the prime of mural paintings, in our earlier missions, we left Bagan and headed to Phowintaung Cave and Kinmun Village near Monywa to study mural paintings from the 17th to 18th centuries, which can be described as the “revival period.” Through these field studies, we were able to gather a great deal of information.
On February 9th, we visited UNESCO Yangon Office, and explained what we, at Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, have achieved so far through our conservation and restoration work as well as our studies of Me-taw-ya Temple. The officials at the Yangon Office highly commended us for our consistent project that focuses on the conservation of mural paintings and for our processes of promptly starting the restoration of earthquake-damaged areas. We and the UNESCO Yangon Office agreed to share information and develop a cooperative relationship from this point forward.
We have now completed the restoration work in the areas severely damaged by the earthquake. From fiscal 2018 onwards, we will gradually shift our focus from the restoration of the damaged areas to the project’s original purpose, which is the conservation and restoration of the outer walls to protect mural paintings from rain leaks. We will continue to work on developing effective policies for conserving and restoring the Bagan Archaeological Site through extensive discussion with local experts.
Group photo with trainees
Survey at Tagar Church (St. Theodore Church)
As part of the above-mentioned program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we provided a seminar titled “Challenges and Issues to Wall Painting Conservation” from October 30 through November 2, 2017. The seminar held at Nevşehir Hacı Bektaş Veli University attracted 30 conservators and restorers from 10 national conservation and restoration centers in Turkey.
This seminar aims to review the existing emergency procedures, which are important in conserving mural paintings in Turkey, as well as to establish the protocol. For this first seminar, we delivered introductory lectures on “Mural Painting Techniques and Main Causes of Deterioration,” “Principles in Conservation and Restoration” and so on. An opportunity provided to exchange opinions on lectures between lecturers and trainees resulted in motivating the members to work on challenges together in a united effort.
On the last day of the seminar, we visited Tagar Church (St. Theodore Church), where on-site training is planned from the next year, to check the conservation state of the mural painting in the church based on the knowledge learned from the lectures delivered to date. We discussed how emergency procedures should be as important steps in conserving and managing mural paintings unlike general conservation and restoration projects, eliciting a variety of views from them.
At present, a system to conserve and manage mural paintings well has not been established fully in Turkey. It is important for us to proceed with this program in step with the Turkish government.
Before starting this seminar program, we visited the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties, Faculty of Fine Arts, Gazi University to exchange opinions for enhancement of the seminar program. Four training courses will be provided by 2019. We hope to build up a practical and feasible system for experts engaged in conservation activities for cultural properties by all the members attending these seminar courses.
Restoration of the quake-damaged outer wall
Meeting at the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar
From July 6 to 31, 2017, conservation and restoration work was carried out on the outer walls of Me-taw-ya (No. 1205) temple on the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar with the main objective of protecting the murals from rain damage. Based on the results of scientific analysis and physical testing of the various materials composing the temple, which had been conducted since FY2016, we re-assessed the problematic restoration materials and methods currently used. We then worked to restore the places most damaged by last year’s earthquake, and successfully completed our task with consideration given to compatibility between old and new materials.
On the request of the Myanmar Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture, we also made a presentation at the 10th Expert Meeting on Earthquake Damage to the Bagan Archaeological Site held on July 27, giving a report on our activities to date. This resulted in our work being highly commended for its utility in the context of today’s urgent need for restoration initiatives for the Bagan Site, and we were asked to further intensify our cooperation going forward.
In part to respond to these requests, we plan to continue with our consistent program of conservation and restoration, as well as to communicate repeatedly with local experts in order to construct conservation and restoration policies suited to the Bagan Archaeological Site.
Current state at St. Theodore Church
Presentation of case examples at Gazi University
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted a field survey from June 12 to 24, 2017. During this survey visit, we also held meetings with Turkish parties concerned in preparation for the “Training course on the first-aid of mural paintings” to be held in the Republic of Turkey in the fall of 2017 or later. The main purposes of this past survey visit were to further improve our understandings of the current state of mural conservation in Turkey and also to determine the sites suitable for the hands-on session that will be a part of the training course. The mural paintings at about 15 locations, including churches in Trabzon on the Black Sea coast and cave churches scattered around the Göreme district in Cappadocia, were surveyed and valuable information was acquired to enrich contents of the training course.
During our visit to the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties, Faculty of Fine Arts, Gazi University, and the Regional Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration in Nevşehir that have provided continuous cooperation in advancing the project forward since last fiscal year, presentations on case examples of the conservation and restoration of murals in Turkey were given and we had meaningful opportunities to exchange views regarding the topics of the program with lecturers who will engaged in the training course.
The first training course is scheduled to be held in October for Turkish specialists who are engaged in conservation of the cultural properties. We will proceed with the preparation of the training course so that it will become a good opportunity to consider and realize further improvement of protecting cultural properties from a new perspective.
The state of the damaged Saint Christopher (San Cristoforo) Church (exterior walls)
The state of the damaged Saint Christopher (San Cristoforo) Church (interior mural paintings)
A 6.2 magnitude earthquake occurred with its epicenter in Norcia, Perugia in the central area of Italy on August 24th, 2016, and caused massive human and material damage in and around the area. Coincidentally, a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit the central area of Myanmar on the same day, which damaged a large number of Buddhist stupas and mural paintings drawn in the Bagan remains. The Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) had formulated ways of conserving and restoring brick structures and mural paintings specifically for the Mae-taw-yat shrine (No. 1205) in the Bagan remains and carried out projects with an eye toward developing human resources up to that time. After the area suffered earthquake damage, however, extra items to be addressed were added, forcing the TNRICP to modify its policy partially.
Against this background, with the aim of exchanging views and opinions about how to address issues and preservation and restoration philosophy when regarding structures that had mural painting and stucco ornaments as mixed heritage, a party visited the disaster sites in Italy from April 20th through 27th, 2017. According to local experts who were engaged in restoration activities, work was behind schedule due to enormous damage but the inspection survey proved to be productive in a number of ways in terms of how to identify the actual state of damage or establish a procedure for conservation and restoration.
This survey was primarily targeted at churches that had religious mural paintings that were associated with the Bible. Meanwhile, in the Bagan remains, the main target is temples that have Buddhist mural paintings. Though the era, objective of production and techniques employed are different between the two, they share the same philosophy in moving ahead with efforts to save cultural assets in disaster-stricken areas. We will continue to promote research on how appropriate restoration projects targeting mixed cultural properties should be while leveraging international networks.
Practical training on investigation of the lacquer objects
Practical training on observation of cross-section samples using a microscope
The Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation held a lacquerware workshop at the Lacquerware Technology College in Bagan, Myanmar, as part of the project ʻProtection and Conservation of Cultural Properties in Myanmarʼ Bagan is a major production area for lacquerware. The above-mentioned college is working hard to train young lacquerware specialists to pass down local traditions and techniques. A lacquerware museum is attached to the college, where many cultural properties are housed. On the other hand, they need knowledge and skills related to the conservation and restoration of their cultural properties and scientific research on materials.
Twelve college teachers and the museum curators participated in the workshop held from February 6th to 8th, 2017. The participants were provided with practical training and lectures on investigation and scientific analysis which are essential for the basis on conservation and restoration of lacquerware. In the practical training, each participant was required to visually examine and take notes on three pieces of Japanese lacquerware and one from the museum collection, followed by a discussion about their uses, materials, techniques and condition of damage. Finally, the comments and explanations were given by the instructor. In the scientific analysis part of the practical training, the participants prepared and observed by themselves cross-section samples. Fragments detached from actual lacquerware were embedded in synthetic resin, and the well-polished samples were then observed using a microscope to understand the structure of the lacquer coating. To cover the practical training, lectures were also provided to introduce a case study of conservation and restoration, along with prevalent methods of scientific analysis.
The aim of the workshop was to provide the college teachers and curators with experience that would help them to protect the cultural properties in Myanmar.
Waterproof sheet covering the damaged areas
Lashing belt reinforcing the structure
From February 5th to 28th, 2017, at Me-taw-ya (No. 1205) temple in the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, the experiments with restoration materials and techniques were carried out in order to establish restoration methods for outer wall of brick temples, mainly aiming at protecting mural paintings from rain leakage. The previous surveys raised the issues to be resolved: the selection of appropriate restoration materials and methods considering aesthetic appearance of the monuments. Repeated discussion with the staff members of the Bagan Branch, Department of Archaeology and National Museums, Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture of Myanmar, resulted in a meaningful exchange of ideas about concrete restoration methods. On the other hand, explained in detail by local experts, a study was conducted to get the information about the changes of techniques and iconography, related to mural paintings which are the principal subject of this project.
During the field work on site, a series of significant damage was detected to the temple structure, caused by the earthquake measuring M6.8 that struck central Myanmar on August 24th, 2016. Consequently, the remedial intervention was taken on the damaged areas, partially rescheduling the first planning. In the Bagan Archaeological Site, obviously rain leakage is the crucial cause of deterioration of the brick temples and mural paintings which decorate their inside. Lashing belts were employed to reinforce the structure, along with nets and waterproof sheets to prevent collapses and water penetration, taking into account the approaching rainy season.
The results of chemical analysis of various materials used during the construction period will provide the criteria for revising the restoration methods introduced in the past and for studying the compatibility between new and old materials. Also, a plan will be made with local experts for new restoration methods adapted to the current situation of the Bagan Archaeological Site.
Meeting to exchange views and opinions
On-site inspection of a mural painting
From October 29th through November 14th, 2016, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation held a meeting to exchange views and opinions on the conservation of and management system for mural paintings and conducted an inspection tour in the Republic of Turkey. The meeting took place, targeting administrative officials in charge of conserving mural paintings in the country, conservation and restoration specialists, educators and university students, at three venues, namely, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Faculty of Art and Design, Gazi University in Ankara, and the Argos Hotel in Cappadocia. Through a presentation on a training program associated with the conservation and management of the mural paintings of cave churches of Cappadocia planned by the Center, we were able to identify participants’ needs firsthand and obtain valuable information that will be helpful in developing projects in the future.
Meanwhile, the inspection tour covered cave churches scattered about the Goreme district in Cappadocia, cave churches in Ihlara Valley, Çatalhöyük, the Antalya Museum, St. Nicholas Church in Demre, and the ruins of Ephesus, under the cooperation of the Nevsehir Conservation and Restoration Center and the Conservation and Restoration Department, Faculty of Art and Design, Gazi University. This tour allowed us to deepen our understanding of the actual situation of maintaining and managing a wide variety of mural paintings in this nation. We will continue to conduct similar surveys, identifying points to be improved and new issues so as to translate them into new future projects.
Mural Pieces Scattering over the Ground
On August 24th, 2016, a magnitude 6.8 earthquake, the epicenter of which was located in Chauk, Central Myanmar, occurred. Many pagoda temples of the Bagan Archaeological Zone also suffered from the earthquake. From September 24th through 30th, 2016, we investigated the murals conserved in that Zone for confirmation.
Together with the staff from the Bagan Branch of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum and Library, the Ministry of Culture, we conducted an on-site investigation to check the extent of the damage to the murals mainly at the temples in which serious damage had been reported in advance. As a result, we found that cracks on the brick temples supporting the murals and the movements of the brick pieces led to plaster damage, and the damage levels differed according to the various mural production techniques and materials used in the Pagan Dynasty. In addition, we revealed that some of the materials used in the past restoration were not suitable for the murals in Bagan, even going so far as being detrimental to them.
In the Bagan Archaeological Zone, the rehabilitation activities to protect its old temples are still proceeding. Me-Taw-Ya Temple (No. 1205), for which we are considering emergency measures and conservation/restoration methods for its external walls as our project, was also damaged. We will work on further activities while paying attention to the restoration materials to be introduced with a focus on the negative factors unveiled by the earthquake, establishment of emergency measures, and development of experts involved in these processes.