|■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
Five researchers from the Hunan Province Cultural Heritage Bureau and Museum in China
On November 11, the researchers came to study the repair, maintenance and conservation of old buildings, and toured the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation on the fourth floor. The person in charge of the facility provided explanations and answered questions.
Director of Culture and Fine Arts Bureau of Ministry of Education, Culture and Science in Mongolia, along with four researchers
On November 13, the group visited us and toured the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department of Intangible Culture Heritage on the basement floor, the Library of the Department of Research Programming on the second floor, the Restoration Studio and the Analytical Science Section of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on the third and fourth floors, and the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation on the fourth floor. Those in charge of each facility provided explanations and answered questions.
25 Cultural Property Volunteers from Kawasaki City’s Tama Citizen Hall
On November 18, the group visited us to see our organizations and facilities for conserving cultural properties, as part of fostering volunteers to focus on using local cultural properties. They toured the Audio-Visual Documentation Section of the Department of Intangible Culture Heritage on the basement floor, the Conservation Science Section and the Restoration Studio of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on the third floor, and the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation on the fourth floor. Those in charge of each facility provided explanations and answered questions.
Six Researchers from the National Palace Museum in Taiwan
On November 25, the researchers visited us to inspect scientific research on conservation technology and traditional techniques concerning ancient Japanese roof tiles. They toured the basement X-Ray Photographing Room, the Conservation Science Section and the Restoration Studio of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and the Fumigation Chamber on the third floor, and the Analytical Science Experimental Laboratory of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on the fourth floor. Those in charge of each facility provided explanations and answered questions.
An offer for donation was made by the Tokyo Arts Dealers’ Association to subsidize projects for the publication of the results of investigation and studies related to cultural properties conducted by the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo. Another offer was also made, this one by the Tokyo Bijutsu Club, to subsidize the Institute’s research projects.
The Tokyo Arts Dealers’ Association has donated 1 million yen each spring and autumn since the autumn of 2001; this was their 14th donation. The Tokyo Bijutsu Club has also donated 1 million yen in spring and autumn since the autumn of 2006, making this donation its fourth.
On November 28, we received bank transfers of donations from the Tokyo Arts Dealers’ Association (Director Shimojo Keiichi) and the Tokyo Bijutsu Club (President Asaki Masakatsu).
Although we did not have an opportunity to meet either Director Shimojo Keiichi of the Tokyo Arts Dealers’ Association or President Asaki Masakatsu of the Tokyo Bijutsu Club because they were busy, we are most grateful for their understanding of the Institute’s work and their donations. We would like to use these donations for valuable projects conducted by the Institute.
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.
3rd Conference on Study of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage held its third conference on the study of intangible folk cultural properties on November 20, 2008. This year’s topic was Conservation of Goods Related to Intangible Folk Cultural Properties. To conserve intangible folk cultural properties, including manners and customs, folkloric performing arts, and folklore techniques, not only must the skills be transferred, but many goods such as materials and tools, huge decorations, floats, and stalls must be appropriately secured and maintained. From this viewpoint, we listened to examples of four cases reported by relevant organizations engaged in actual maintenance and protection, and had discussions with people involved on the floor. Eager discussions were held on the difficulty of “conserving while using” (i.e. the organization of conservation activities with a view to new creation) and building a system to conserve both the tangible and intangible as a whole. The detailed agenda for this conference will be summarized and issued in March 2009.
Detaching painting of constellations
Ceiling after painting of constellations was detached
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo is now engaged in the detachment of wall paintings from the Kitora Tumulus, as part of the project Survey on Conservation of Kitora Tumulus, a Special Historic Site entrusted from the Agency for Cultural Affairs. In July 2007, we started to detach the painting of constellations from the ceiling, and we finished the operation at the end of November, 2008. The status of plaster over the painting of constellations varied in different positions, as did work on the ceiling, so we had difficulties detaching the work. However, we eventually detached it as a total of 113 pieces of plaster. The completion of this work means that all paintings confirmed in the stone chamber have now been detached, including the paintings of the four guardian gods of the directions and the twelve horary signs. Hereafter we plan to detach the unpainted plaster around the painting of constellations. We will then combine the detached plaster pieces to reform the painting of constellations with plans to exhibit in the future.
Participants at the seminar of the Japan-Korea joint research
Investigation for making a deterioration map at the stone pagoda of Bulguksa temple
The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques is conducting joint research on environmental impact on cultural properties and development of restoration techniques together with the Conservation Science Division of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. Currently, research is being conducted to find the causes of deterioration of stone heritage in an outdoor environment, including Buddhist images carved on natural cliff, and restoration materials and techniques are being developed and evaluated. In addition, a seminar is held once a year alternately in Japan and Korea.
This year’s seminar was held on November 6, 2008 in the lecture hall of the National Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, Korea. Director Suzuki Norio and 5 researchers from the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, attended. Kuchitsu Nobuaki and Morii Masayuki of the Institute and Yamaji Yasuhiro of Beppu University presented case studies of the conservation of stone heritage in Japan. Before the seminar, visits were made to conservation sites in Kyongju – stone pagoda of Bulguksa temple and the three-storied pagoda of Gameunsa temple site – and discussions were held with Korean researchers on restoration materials and techniques. A visit was also made to the Museum of Kyungpook National University in Taegu to investigate the objects excavated from Dae-gaya.
We hope to continue such joint research and to increase interaction between Japan and Korea.
Surveying the status of mural pieces before joining, with local trainees
As part of an exchange program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation is conducting conservation of mural paintings in the collection of the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan. Three missions were dispatched from summer to autumn, and a workshop was held in early December 2008.
Since there are not many conservators in Tajikistan, the excavated mural painting fragments have been left in the storage of the National Museum without appropriate treatment. The goal of this project is to transfer to Tajikistan conservation knowledge and techniques that the Center has accumulated to date and to foster Tajik specialists in conservation. Until now, 4 trainees have participated in works related to the storage, investigation and photography as well as the cleaning of the mural painting fragments.
In December, a workshop was held at the National Museum to which a total of 5 conservation specialists were invited from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan. The participants reported the actual conditions of the conservation of mural paintings in their respective countries. We introduced the new undertaking being conducted in Tajikistan, and the participants were able to actually experience a series of the work. We hope to promote activities for the conservation of mural paintings in Central Asia and to improve conservation methods by holding similar workshops in the future, working jointly with local experts and exchanging opinions.
General view of the Ajanta Caves
Agreement Signing Ceremony (ASI, New Delhi)
On November 21, 2008, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) concluded an agreement on a research project for the conservation of the mural paintings at Ajanta Caves.
There are many valuable Buddhist mural paintings at Ajanta Caves dating to both the earlier period (1st century BC to 2nd century AD) and the later period (5th century to 6th century AD). However, these mural paintings have deteriorated severely due to structural problems of the bedrock itself, damage from floods in rainy seasons, bat excrement, and blackened markings likely caused by smoke.
To deal with these problems, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo will survey Caves no. 2 and no. 9 of Ajanta from 2008 to 2010 as part of an exchange program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. Indian and Japanese specialists will exchange and share knowledge of conservation techniques and materials, expertise, and experience, aiming at improving the techniques and abilities of both groups of experts.
Visit to Shunling Tomb
The conservation project for the stone statues of the tombs of the Tang dynasty, conducted jointly with the Xi’an Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage in China since 2004, will end this year. In this joint project, Chinese and Japanese specialists have held yearly workshops. The fifth and the final workshop, a larger one than the others, was held in Xi’an on November 17 and 18, 2008. The purpose was to show the results of the project to specialists in Chinese institutions and universities, to exchange opinions on various problems concerning the conservation of stone cultural properties, and to interact with each other. About 40 specialists participated in the workshop. The participants conducted an on-site inspection on November 17 and held presentations and active discussions on November 18. Contents of the workshop were as follows:
*Morii Masayuki (National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo)
”Environmental observation after the construction of shelter on the Usuki stone Buddha”
*Tomoda Masahiko (National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo)
”Conservation and management of stone sites: the case of the Angkor Site”
*Tsuda Yutaka (Geolest Co. Ltd., specialist of UNESCO Longmen Grottoes project)
”Condensation at Longmen Grottoes”
*Fang Yun (China University of Geosciences, Wuhan)
”Observation of cracks and deformation on the rock carvings of Shunling Tomb”
*Zhen Guangquan (Xi’an Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage in China)
”Research on materials for protecting stone cultural properties”
*Zhu Yiqing (Zhong Wei Kang Long Nano Science & Technology Development Co. Ltd.)
”Materials for the conservation of stone objects and its evaluation system”
*Wang Li (Nanjing Museum)
”Conservation of the cliff inscriptions at Huayangdong Cave in Mount Maoshan, Jurong, Jiangsu”
*Ma Tao (Xi’an Centre for the Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Heritage in China)
”Surface treatment for the conservation of the stone statues of Qianling Tomb”