|■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
Briefing (November 29th)
Six students of Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts majoring in Art Studies of Arts and Crafts Faculty (and others)
On November 29th, they visited us as part of external study. After Deputy of Director General Nakano explained the outline, they toured the restoration studio of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on the third floor, the Library of the Department of Research Programming on the second floor, and the X-ray Room of the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques on the basement floor. Those in charge of each facility provided explanations and answered questions.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage holds a conference on the study of discussing various problems concerning the conservation and passing on of intangible folk cultural properties every year. We held the fifth conference with the theme of “roles of museums and resource centers in protecting intangible folk cultural properties” at the seminar room of our Institute on November 18, 2010. While the activities of museums and resource centers have become diversified in recent years, there have been more and more examples of actively struggling to protect and pass on intangible folk cultural properties, regarding them as representatives of cultures in local communities. The conference asked four museums and resource centers nationwide to report on the current status and issues they face, and there was an active discussion based on those reports. The details of the conference will be issued as a report in March 2011.
Inside the stone chamber with all plaster walls removed
The Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques has been removing the wall paintings of Kitora Tumulus as part of a project called the Investigation on Conservation for special historic site Kitora Tumulus, commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. We had aimed to complete the removal in the next spring term following the intensive removal of the paintings in the spring and autumn of 2009. However, we removed all plaster from the stone chamber walls during this term earlier than the planned schedule (autumn 2010). This work was attributed to the proficiency of the engineers in removal, as well as to the development and improvement of the machines, tools and materials promoted by Tobunken. The work in the stone chamber was finished in a series of conservation projects of Kitora Tumulus Wall Paintings, starting with the removal of Seiryu (blue dragon) in 2004. We will begin treating and mounting the wall paintings in the conservation facility.
Usuki Stone Buddha Statues. This is a national treasure and a designated historic site (seated Amitabha Tathagata Buddha statue of the second group of Hoki stone buddhas)
Since 2000, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo has been promoting a joint research study with Usuki City to establish the conservation plan of the Usuki Stone Buddha Statues, a national treasure and a designated historic site for the next term. On November 6th, we held report presentations on the results of research for these 10 years in the Debriefing Session on the Conservation Environment of Usuki Stone Buddha Statues at the central community hall of Usuki City.
Mr. Takeo Oku at the Agency for Cultural Affairs first made a speech on the significance of the conservation plan for the next term, followed by Mr. Shoichi Shimoyama at Kyushu University presenting a lecture on the Aso ignimbrite, on which the Usuki Stone Buddha Statues were sculpted. Then Mr. Lee Chan-hee at the Kongju National University and Mr. Kim Sa-dug at the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties in South Korea gave lectures about the survey on the deterioration states of stone cultural properties in South Korea and the conservation of them. Following these lectures, the researcher of our Institute made a report on the results of research, including the outline of research, the deterioration state of the surface of rock-carved Buddha statues, and the water and air environments. By reviewing the results of the survey on the causes of deterioration, the researcher also made some proposals about measures against deterioration, such as antifreeze measures during cold periods and measures for inquiline control, as well as deterioration monitoring techniques. Closing the session, the Usuki City Education Board presented draft plans about a conservation project for the next term and subsequent monitoring and maintenance, with a title called the Vision of Long-Span Conservation Plan for Usuki Stone Buddha Statues. They asked the participants for their understanding.
Although our research continued for an unprecedented 10 years for one cultural property, we have gained a lot of results here. We hope that these results will be utilized to conserve not only the Usuki Stone Buddha Statues, but many other stone cultural properties as well.
Condition Assesment of wall paintings (right shrine of Ajanta Cave 2)
Cleaning trial of black accretion (right wall of right shrine of Ajanta Cave 2)
The National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) conduct joint research on the conservation of the wall paintings of the Ajanta Caves, under the framework of the Exchange Program of International Cooperation of Cultural Heritage commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the government subsidized budget for the Cooperative Project for the Conservation of Cultural Heritage in West Asia. We aim to share knowledge on conservation and exchange conservation techniques that are necessary for this project.
The wall paintings of the Ajanta Caves have many problems – the leaking of water from cracks in the base rocks, biological damage, artificial damage, and discoloration caused by past treatments and the deterioration of colored layers. Noticeable things among these problems are the blackened and whitened bat excrement and the yellowed and darkened varnish (shellac, PVAC) coated on the surfaces of wall paintings. We have currently not yet discovered any effective methods that would lead to assured conservation. To overcome these problems, we conducted cleaning treat of the wall paintings of Cave 2 during this fifth mission (from November 14th to December 4th, 2010). Utilizing the scientific analyses and documented data accumulated up until last year, we examined appropriate conservation methods together with the Indian conservation specialists.
At the workshop
Wall painting fragments exhibited in the museum
From October 3 to November 2, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation conducted the 9th Mission for Conservation of Wall Paintings in the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan. This was part of the Exchange Program of International Cooperation of Cultural Heritage planned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs. During past missions, we examined the methods of mounting wall painting fragments on a support and decided on a basic policy. In this mission, we reviewed part of the operation process, aiming to further reduce the weight of support and shorten the operation time.
In addition, we held a workshop entitled the Conservation of Wall Paintings from Central Asia 2010 at the above-mentioned museum from October 21 to the 27. At the third workshop during these missions the theme was mounting, which is the last process of wall painting conservation work. Five conservation specialists participated in the workshop: one conservator from both Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia, two conservators from the Mural Restoration Laboratories at the State Hermitage Museum, Russia, and one conservator from the Dun Huang Academy, China. Three trainees from the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan also participated in the workshop. Using the mounting methods improved during this mission, all participants experienced all the processes of mounting wall painting fragments on a new support.
During the mission, we completed the conservation treatment of six wall painting fragments among those excavated from the Kala-i Kahkaha I site, and exhibited them at the above Tajik museum. Three trainees from the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan learned methods for mounting wall painting fragments and the filling up of the lost portions on the surface of wall paintings. They were able to independently perform all conservation treatment processes. We hope that these trainees will continue conservation even after this project is completed. We also hope that they will contribute to the conservation of valuable cultural heritage in Tajikistan.