|■Tokyo National Research
Institute for Cultural Properties
||■Center for Conservation
|■Department of Art Research,
Archives and Information Systems
||■Japan Center for
International Cooperation in Conservation
|■Department of Intangible
While the Heisei Large Repair of the Phoenix Hall was being implemented from 2003 to 2008 at the Byodo-in Temple, the seated Amitabha Tathagata, along with the halo and pedestal, were transferred to a specially installed studio on the temple grounds. We took this opportunity to conduct a detailed optical survey of the painting in front of the wall behind the Buddha, with support and cooperation from Byodo-in Temple, in 2004 and 2005. We used high-definition digital camera techniques and recorded the current status of the painting in detail. As a report on the results, the “Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in Temple, the Wall Behind the Buddha Investigation Material List: Near-infrared Image Edition” was issued on February 26. This follows the issue of “Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in Temple, the Wall Behind the Buddha Investigation Material List: Color Image Edition” in 2009. As is well known, the panel painting on front of the Wall Behind the Buddha is usually behind the principal Buddha image, Amitabha Tathagata, so it is not easy to view the whole painting in detail. This edition, therefore, will prove very useful use not only for the study of the painting on the wall behind Buddha, but also for the study on Buddhist paintings during the Heian period. In 2011, we will issue the “Phoenix Hall of Byodo-in Temple, the Wall Behind the Buddha Investigation Material List: Fluoroscopic Image Edition.”
Joint Research Conference with Nara National Museum
The Department of Research Programming held a research conference at our conference room on Thursday, November 5 to proceed with the confirmation of the results of joint research and the editing of “Report” to be issued hereafter. Three persons in charge of the Nara National Museum participated in the conference and the six people of our department attended – Director Tanaka, Shirono, Torimitsu, Tsuda, Emura and Tsuchiya. We discussed how to execute the report of results obtained by researching the pedestal used for reading stored in Kasuga Taisha Shrine, the plate pictures on pedestals of Sakyamuni Buddha trinity and the Buddha of Healing stored in the Golden Hall of Horyu-ji Temple last autumn, and Five Hundred Luohan stored at Daitoku-ji Temple this May and September. Based on this conference, we are now editing the report of the results on the pedestal used for reading stored in Kasuga Taisha Shrine and the plate pictures on pedestals of the Sakyamuni Buddha trinity and the Buddha of Healing stored in the Golden Hall of Horyu-ji Temple for issuance at the end of this fiscal year.
At the entrance side of the lobby
At the center of the lobby
At the recesses of the lobby
Starting September 18 (Friday), the Department of Research Programming is in charge of a panel exhibition at the entrance of Institute titled “Investigation and research of Buddha statues, using X-ray photography”. This exhibition was planned to introduce the investigation and research that has been conducted up to now, with the cooperation of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, as part of the research project of the Department of Research Programming titled “Cross-Disciplinary Study of Art Materials and Techniques”. The panel exhibition is scheduled to be held until the end of this year.
We recently received an offer of donation of a glass dry plate and prints of swords from Otsukakogei-shinsha Co., Ltd. (Sueharu Sato, President and CEO). Delivery to the Institute was completed on Monday, August 10. The Archives Section of the Department of Research Programming, which received the donation, is planning on organizing the donated materials starting with the prints with an eye toward utilizing both the glass dry plate and the prints as the Institute’s cultural heritage materials.
On May 12, Mr. Tsuda Tetsuei and Ms. Sarai Mai of the Department of Research Programming conducted X-ray transmission photography and fluorescent X-ray non-destructive analysis of a copper bodhisattva in a pensive pose with one leg pendent from Hyakusaiji temple in Shiga as part of the current two-year plan, Investigation of and Research into Statues in Omi in Ancient and Medieval Times, Centering on Previously Undisclosed Statues such as Hidden Buddha Statues, at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Funds for investigation and research were provided by the Idemitsu Culture and Welfare Foundation, and Mr. Inuzuka Masahide and Hayakawa Yasuhiro of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques offered their services as well. At 13:00 on May 12, the statue was brought into the Institute by the two curators from the Miho Museum who then conducted joint research with us and the resident priest of Hyakusaiji temple. The main purposes of this research were to examine the structure using X-ray transmission photography in order to check whether the head and body of the statue, where reconnection was visible at the breast, were created around the same time, and also to check the copper components in both parts using fluorescent X-ray non-destructive analysis. The statue will be open for viewing by the public this summer at Miho Museum.
Mr. Tsuda Tetsuei and Ms. Sarai Mai of the Department of Research Programming will start this year to investigate and research important sculptures in Shiga Prefecture in a two-year plan, Investigation of and Research into Statues in Omi in Ancient and Medieval Times, Centering on Previously Undisclosed Statues such as Hidden Buddha Statues (representative researcher Tsuda Tetsuei). The two received funds for the investigation and research from the Idemitsu Culture and Welfare Foundation, and received cooperation from the research staff, who have special bonding with Shiga Prefecture, centered on Miho Museum. As our first project, we investigated the seated Avalokitesvara statue (245.3 cm high) at the Kannondo of Tendaishu Zensuiji Temple on Mt. Iwanesan in Koga City from the early morning until the evening of Sunday, April 26. The existence of this statue was generally unknown up to now, and this is the first project to move it. Based on the style of the statue, it was probably carved in the late Heian Period, and it was kept in relatively good condition. We were given a glimpse into the abundance and versatility of the cultural properties of Shiga Prefecture, where such a great work existed unnoticed by most people.
The Department of Research Programming concluded an agreement on collaborative investigation with the Nara National Museum (an optical survey of Buddhist art and a contract on the creation of high-definition digital content), as part of the research project Survey Research on Applications of High-definition Digital Images. From Tuesday, November 4 to Friday, November 7 of this year, we performed non-destructive analysis using fluorescent X-rays, high-definition full-color recording, high-definition fluorescent recording with visible light excitation, and reflective near infrared recording in the Nara National Museum. Our targets were the pedestal that is stored in Kasuga Taisha Shrine and used in reading the picture scroll Kasugagongenkenki, and the pedestals of Sakyamuni Buddha trinity and the Buddha of Healing, stored in the Golden Hall of Horyu-ji Temple. The purpose of this survey was to examine the materials and production processed used and create high-definition digital content based on the above optical survey. In this survey, we acquired various types of information that were not likely to be confirmed by the naked eye because of changes brought about by aging in every case. We are considering reporting our findings in discussions with the Cultural Department of Nara National Museum.
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has been cooperating in the conservation and restoration of Japanese art objects that are in the collections of museums overseas and conducting studies on the conservation and restoration of target works in collaboration with the museums that own these objects.
In the fiscal year 2008, conservation and restoration will be carried out in Japan for four paintings: “Matsu ni Kujaku zu Byobu” (Peacocks and Pine Trees; a 6-paneled folding screen; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Canada), “Hoshi Mandala zu” (Star Mandala; hanging scroll; Vancouver Museum, Canada), “Mushi Uta-awase Emaki” (Poetry Contest of Insects; hand scroll; Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale, Italy), and “Yujo Tachisugata zu” (Courtesan, by Miyagawa Choshun; Museo d’Arte Orientale “Edoardo Chiossone,” Italy), as well as for four craftworks: “Sumiyoshi Makie Bundai” (Writing table; Victoria and Albert Museum, England), “Kacho Monsho Makie Tate” (Leather shield; Ashmolean Museum, England), “Omi Hakkei Makie Kodana” (Pair of shelves for incense; Museum Velke Mezirici, Czech Republic), and “Rohkaku Sansui Makie-bako” (Cabinet with Mounting, European influenced shape; Museum fur Angewandte Wien, Austria; continued from the last fiscal year). Moreover, at the overseas restoration studio established in the Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst in Cologne, Germany, conservation and restoration of “Kajuchoju Makie Raden Yobitsu” (Ornamental Coffer with flower and bird design, makie and raden technique) is in progress (3rd year of 3 consecutive years). In addition, from this fiscal year, at the restoration studio for paper in the Deutsches Technikmuseum Berlin, conservation and restoration of “Darumazu” (Bodhidharma; a painting in the collection of Museum fur Ostasiatische Kunst; to be continued for 2 years) will be carried out. In this overseas restoration studio, a workshop for overseas staff engaged in restoration is scheduled to be held in parallel with the actual restoration work.
X-ray radiography of the upper torso of the Standing Figure of a Bodhisattva
As part of the research project of the Department of Research Programming, “Trans-Disciplinary Study of Art Materials and Techniques,” X-ray radiography was taken of a hollow dry lacquer Standing Figure of a Bodhisattva (height 77.1 cm; private collection in Tokyo) at the Institute on January 29 (Tuesday). As mentioned in the Monthly Report for September, this figure is believed to have been created at the beginning of the 9th century according to its style. Since the investigation carried out in June was limited to visual inspection of the surface, we were not able to clarify the structure or the method of manufacture employed for the figure. Thus X-ray radiography was executed this time to examine whether there is any structural member inside the statue that would be used to support it, how many layers of hemp cloth were used, and how much later additions and restorations had been made. As a result of this examination it was confirmed that there is no structural member inside to support the figure, that restoration had been limited to the surface and that there was not much damage extending to the inside of the figure. Furthermore, it was found that the clay had been removed by separating the figure into the front and back halves by cutting on a line that passes through the ears, while the normal method for making a hollow dry lacquer statue was to apply layers of hemp cloth to a clay mold and to remove the mold from rectangular windows cut at the back of the head and on the back of the torso so as to create the hollow space. It was also found that on this figure the arms had been made separately and attached at the shoulders after the front and back halves had been rejoined. Such method suggests that there was a new development in structure and technique of hollow dry lacquer toward the end of the manufacture of hollow dry lacquer statues. Further technical clarification in this aspect is expected.
The Department of Research Programming holds workshops every month to give interim reports on or to present a part of the results of its research projects. On Wednesday, December 26 (from 3 pm) Tsuda Tetsuei made a presentation entitled “On the Local Production of Buddhist Statues in the 12th Century” which is a part of the research project “Cross-Disciplinary Study of Art Materials and Techniques.”
Until now the fact that there are not many differences in expression or techniques between Jocho-style Buddhist statues, the standard sitting style of Amitabha Tathagata, made in the cities and in local areas was attributed to skills of the Buddhist sculptors who made these statues. Instead, Tsuda attributed the lack of difference to the way in which theses statues were produced. He noted the existence of local officials who had bases of their activities in both cities and local areas and who moved between the two. By so doing, and by giving directions as to how statues were to be made, they acted as key persons in the production of Buddhist statues and raised the cultural level of the local areas to that of the cities. Based on such hypothesis, Tsuda examined the statue of Amitabha Tathagata at Jogon’in temple in Shiga prefecture whose original canopy, nimbus and pedestal remain and other similar statues in nearby temples. The presentation was followed by active exchange of opinion among the participants, including indication of places where further study seems appropriate.
In The Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas, Japanese paintings in overseas collections are temporarily brought back to Japan for conservation. Every year, persons in charge from the collections concerned come to Japan to confirm the progress of restoration work and to select new mounting materials. Of the five items being restored this fiscal year, staff from three of the collections concerned visited the restoration studios with the persons from the Department of Research Programming who are in charge of the respective paintings.
Following is a list of the visiting staff, their respective collections and the dates of their visit. Jennifer Price, Curator of Asian and Non-Western Art, Kimbell Museum (United States); October 16
Andrea Wise, Senior Conservator, National Gallery of Australia; October 26
Wynne Phelan, Chief Conservator, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and conservation assistant Tina Tan; November 13
The restoration of these paintings will be completed by the end of March 2008. After being shown to the Administrative Committee of the Program, they will be opened to the public at the Tokyo National Museum.
Standing Figure of a Bodhisattva, private collection
As a part of the Cross-Disciplinary Study of Art Materials and Techniques, a research project being undertaken by the Department of Research Programming, a hollow dry lacquer Figure of a Standing Bodhisattva (private collection in Tokyo) was investigated on Thursday, June 21. In hollow dry lacquer technique used for a Buddha statue, a clay mold is first made. Then hemp cloth is pasted to the surface of the mold after which the clay is removed from the mold to make a hollow. Finally an over-layering of lacquer stiffened with plant fibers is applied to the surface of the hemp cloth. As is already known, the manufacture of Buddha statues using this technique was popular in Japan during the Tempyo period (8th century), but there are very few existing examples today. In such a circumstance, this Bodhisattva figure is an example whose existence was not known until recently Although there are traces of gold foil applied with lacquer on its surface, which is thought to have been done after the figure was made, and traces of repair on damaged parts, the condition of its preservation is comparatively good. It is also to be noted that the figure has been transmitted in an almost complete form. From the expression of the precious chignon and the form of the face, it appears that the figure was manufactured either at the end of the 8th century or the beginning of the 9th century. However, as is the case with the investigation of hollow dry lacquer figures, it is true that a visual observation of the surface does not provide enough information as to how many layers of hemp cloth had been applied or to what degree restoration and later additions had been made. We hope to conduct X-ray photography of this figure, with the permission of the owner, in order to study the materials and techniques used so that we may better understand it.
Exhibition of screens restored
Panel exhibitions showing the process of restoration
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is engaged in the cooperation of the conservation of Japanese art objects that are in the collection of art galleries and museums overseas and in conducting joint research concerning conservation of such objects with their respective institutions. On April 20, 5 paintings and 1 craftwork whose restoration was complete at the end of March 2006 were introduced to the Administrative Committee of the Cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas. In addition, a special exhibition was held from May 15 to 27 at the Thematic Exhibition Room on the first floor of Heiseikan of the Tokyo National Museum so that this project may be more widely known. These objects are: Struggles of Genji and Heike Clans (a pair of folding screens; Osterreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Austria), Screens Illustrating Views of Kyoto and its Environs (a pair of folding screens; Royal Ontario Museum, Canada), Scenes from the Hogen Monogatari Tales (a folding screen; Naprstk Museum, Czech Republic), Meikocho (a folding screen; National Gallery in Prague, Czech Republic), Female Ghost (by Utagawa Toyoharu, a hanging scroll; ibid) and Makie Decoration Cabinet with Landscape and Human (Museo National de Artes Decorativas, Spain).
In fiscal year 2007, 5 paintings (4 new ones and 1 whose restoration will be continued from last year) and 4 craftworks (2 new ones and 2 which will be continued from last year) are being restored in Japan. These are: Kyoto Festivals (Hie Sanno Screen, a pair of folding screens; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA), A Shinto Painting of Yuima (a hanging scroll; Kimbell Art Museum, USA), The Buddha and the Sixteen Protectors (a hanging scroll; National Gallery of Australia), Birds and Flowers (by Hagetsu Tosatsu, a pair of folding screens; National Gallery of Victoria, Australia), and The Descent of the Amitābha Trinity (Amida mit Seishi und Kannon, a painting on canvas; Museum Rietberg, Switzerland; second year of restoration), Large Box for Writing Implements (hakubako) (Ferenc Hopp Museum of East Asian Art, Hungary), Cabinet with Mounting, European influenced shape（Osterreichisches Museum für Angewandte Kunst, Austria), The Writing Desk with Flower Design with Nagasaki raden technique (National Museum in Krakow, Poland; second year of restoration), and The Cabinet with Drawer for Inro with Chinese landscape by Nagasaki raden technique (Museo D’Arte Giappone “Edoardo Chiosonne,” Italy; second year of restoration). In addition 2 craftworks are being restored at the overseas restoration studio at Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst in Cologne, Germany. These are: Mondlaute Japanese (Gekkin, (Museum für Vökerkunde Wien, Austria) and Ornamental Coffer with Flower and Bird Design, makie and raden technique（Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Germany）