|■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
Visitors given a presentation in a chemical science laboratory
Staff gave an explanation to visitors in a demonstration recording room
Staff gave an explanation to visitors in a restoration laboratory
Visitors were given a presentation at the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
A group of 14 visitors from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand
The group visited the Institute on October 7th to learn about the latest techniques which is used in the preservation of traditional Japanese buildings and structures. They were given a tour of a chemical science laboratory the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques and the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation, where the staff explained the work carried out by these two Centers.
A group of 17 visitors from the Cultural Properties Science at the Department of Education, Tokyo Gakugei University
The group visited the Institute on October 7th to be given a tour round the cultural properties preservation and restoration facilities. The visitors were shown round a library in the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, a demonstration recording room in the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and a chemical science laboratory at the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques with the staff explaining the work undertaken in these facilities.
A group of 36 visitors from the “Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Museums—Working Together with Local People” Museum Revitalization Support Project organized by the Agency for Cultural Affairs
The group visited the Institute on October 11th to be given a tour round the cultural properties preservation and restoration facilities. The visitors were shown round a biological science laboratory and restoration laboratory at the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques, where the staff explained the work carried out in these facilities.
A group of 14 visitors from Kanazawa University
The group visited the Institute on October 18th to learn about the current state of international collaboration in the field of cultural properties conservation and about the latest developments in preservation and restoration techniques. The visitors were shown round a chemical science laboratory at the Center for Conservation Science and Restoration Techniques as well as the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation with the staff explaining the work conducted at these facilities.
Leaflet for the 8th public lecture by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage
Following the public lecture it offered last year, the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage offered another public lecture on materials in the Institute’s collection. The lecture sought to inform the broader general public of the existence of materials that the Department had assembled for research purposes.
The lecture discussed long-playing records (LPs) from Nitto Records (the Nitto Gramophone Company). Nitto Records was a record label established in Osaka, and the company sold LPs in the early Showa period (the 1920s). The LPs recorded sound in a different format than that used in typical records, hampering the ability of present-day listeners to listen to the LPs.
Nitto Records’ LPs feature KATSURA Harudanji the first [note: multiple generations of rakugo (Japanese comic storytelling) performers often adopt stage names derived from their master’s name, hence “the first”, “the second,” etc.], TACHIBANAYA Kakitsu the second, and SHOFUKUTEI Shikaku the second (SHOFUKUTEI Shokaku the fifth), who were rakugo performers typical of the pre-war Kamigata style (from Osaka and surrounding areas). Some of the performances by these performers are found only on Nitto Records’ LPs, and the recorded performances are very interesting in terms of their execution. During the 8th public lecture, attendees took whatever time was available to listen to excellent performances of Kamigata rakugo from the early Showa period.
Checking the fractured shapes of the wall painting fragments (excavated at the Khulbuk site in Tajikistan)
From September 19th to October 14th, conservation works were conducted at the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan to the wall painting fragments excavated from the Khulbuk site. These wall painting fragments are assumed to have been produced in the early Islamic period. Since a limited number of wall paintings of this era have been found, this wall painting is very important from historical and art historical points of view in Tajikistan. NRICPT has been earnestly conserving the wall painting fragments since 2010.
The wall paintings were excavated in fragments. When conservation work initially began, paint layers and the white plaster layer as a ground were extremely fragile. In the previous projects, the work such as consolidating the paint layers, jointing broken fragments together, and attaching a new backing had been carried out. This year, artificial renders imitating earthen plaster were applied on the backs of wall painting fragments for further stabilization.
By this operation, the fragments in the various thicknesses were standardized to the same thickness, and it allowed the surface height of the fragment consistent for exhibition. Moreover, the defective and joint parts of fragments were filled with gypsum-based grout. The filling surface of the fragments was painted regarding the color balance of the whole painting which consequently made the image easier to see. In the future, plans are to explore ways to safely exhibit the fragments at the National Museum of Antiquities of Tajikistan.
Part of this conservation project was undertaken with a Sumitomo Foundation Grant for the Preservation and Conservation of Foreign Cultural Properties.
Buddhist cave discovered in the Foladi Valley
Since 2003, the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation has conducted the ‘Safeguarding of the Bamiyan Site’ project in close cooperation with the Ministry of Information and Culture, Afghanistan and Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Japan. Our mission was on hold for three years after 2010 due to security issues in Afghanistan, but a short-term 11th mission was finally dispatched from September 28th to October 6th of this year.
This mission sought to compensate for the 3-year hiatus by confirming the current state of cultural heritage and landscape in the region. This work involved five activities. First, the state of the Buddhist caves and mural paintings was surveyed. Second, environmental data from the past few years, including meteorological data from the Bamiyan Valley and temperature and humidity data from the caves, were collected. Third, general surveys of archaeological sites in the Bamiyan and Foladi Valleys were conducted. A survey of the Foladi Valley revealed a new Buddhist cave that might date to the latter half of the 6th century AD. Fourth, basic information on the landscape at a planned museum construction site was collected. The site is to be the home of a new Bamiyan museum constructed with the help of Mukogawa Women’s University, Japan. Fifth and finally, lectures on the history and culture of the Bamiyan site and previous conservation activities at the site were conducted for students of Bamiyan University, attracting a considerable number of attendees.
The one-week mission yielded limited results, but the fundamental data obtained will serve as the basis for a research plan for the next mission. In addition, the considerable interest of students in the Bamiyan site promises the appearance of a new generation of ‘guardians’ of cultural heritage in Afghanistan.
Pagoda No. 1205
Setup of meteorological equipment
As part of the Networking Core Centers for International Cooperation in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage Project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo conducted a survey on safeguarding Myanmar’s cultural heritage in the Republic of the Union of Myanmar from October 23rd to November 1st. Among the art and craft works in Myanmar, the mission surveyed temple mural paintings and lacquerware. Institute personnel were accompanied and assisted by personnel from the Department of Archaeology, National Museum, and Library of Myanmar’s Ministry of Culture and university staff.
During a survey of temple mural paintings in Bagan, mural paintings in a hall in pagoda No.1205, a Buddhist monument scheduled for surveying and conservation by Japan and Myanmar, were imaged and the state of damage to those paintings was surveyed. In addition, humidity and temperature recorders were set up inside and outside the hall at pagoda No. 1205 for environmental monitoring to ascertain meteorological conditions that might cause the mural paintings to deteriorate.
Meteorological equipment was also set up at the site of the Bagan Branch of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum, and Library of Myanmar’s Ministry of Culture. In the future, plans are to collect and analyze data and devise policies for conservation of mural paintings in concert with personnel from the Bagan Branch of the Department of Archaeology, National Museum, and Library.
During a survey of lacquerware in Mandalay, studios making items such as kamawaza (religious texts drew on lacquer) , glass mosaics, dry lacquerware, and begging bowls (used by priests to collect alms) were visited to observe the techniques and materials currently used to produce lacquerware in Myanmar and interview craftsmen. In Bagan, raw materials for bamboo crafts were studied and all of the ancient lacquerware in the museum of the Bagan College of Lacquerware Technology was surveyed. Plans are to continue conducting similar surveys in the future.
Keynote lecture by Kishore Rao, Director of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre
The symposium underway
The Japan Consortium for International Cooperation in Cultural Heritage (“JCIC-Heritage”) hosts a symposium each year for the general public. This year, the Symposium was held in the U Thant International Conference Hall of the United Nations University on October 26, 2013. The Symposium was entitled the “Future of the World Heritage – Preservation of the World Heritage and Japanese International Cooperation” (sponsors: JCIC-Heritage, Agency for Cultural Affairs, Japan).
In recent years, interest in World Heritage has grown. Japan is increasingly expected to internationally cooperate in safeguarding cultural heritage in order to safeguard World Heritage around the globe. This symposium described Japan’s international cooperation with regard to World Heritage sites such as Angkor in Cambodia and Bamiyan in Afghanistan. In addition, Japanese experts who have worked at those sites reported various issues faced by each of those World Heritage sites. The symposium was home to a discussion of the future forms of Japan’s international cooperation.
The keynote lecture was given by Kishore Rao, Director of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre. He described the issues with and prospects for safeguarding cultural heritage via the credible international framework provided by the World Heritage Convention over the past 40 years.
Instances of safeguarding cultural heritage and international cooperation around the world were reported. A report on Cambodia was given by ISHIZAWA Yoshiaki, chairperson of JCIC-Heritage, a report on Honduras was given by TERASAKI Shuichiro, a member of the Latin America and Caribbean Subcommittee of JCIC-Heritage, a report on Egypt was given by KONDO Jiro, a member of the West Asia Subcommittee of JCIC-Heritage, and a report on Afghanistan was given by MAEDA Kosaku, vice-chairperson of JCIC-Heritage.
SEKI Yuji, chairperson of the Latin America and Caribbean Subcommittee of JCIC-Heritage, moderated a panel discussion after the reports. An active discussion developed regarding the strengths of and future issues with Japan’s international cooperation to safeguard cultural heritage around the world.
This symposium included many reports on Japan’s international cooperation to safeguard cultural heritage and was well-received by attendees in a wider age range than usual. JCIC-Heritage will continue to create opportunities to encourage more members of the general public to take an interest in problems related to safeguarding cultural heritage.
Presentation given by Dr. Youssef KANJOU
Pro-democracy movements in the Middle East that originated from the Arab Spring have caused major changes in the Arab world. A large-scale democracy movement began in Syria in April 2011, and where this swell will lead is not known. The nation is currently in a de facto state of civil war. Syria has already experienced over 100,000 deaths, and many citizens have been forced to flee. Opposition is growing as Syrians flee to neighboring countries, and there appears to be no end in sight to the conflict.
As the civil war unfolds, the destruction of cultural heritage has again captured headlines around the world. Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, is renowned as an ancient capital with scenic views, but the city has been home to severe fighting during the war. Cultural heritage is at great risk, as evinced by the burning of historical souqs (markets or bazaars) that led the city to be inscribed as a World Heritage Site and destruction of the much of the Ancient City of Aleppo. In light of continued fighting, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee placed all 6 of the World Heritage sites in Syria on the List of World Heritage in Danger on June 20, 2013.
In light of these circumstances, the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo hosted a symposium on “Syria’s Recovery and Its Cultural Heritage” on October 31st with the backing of the Japanese Society for West Asian Archaeology.
During the symposium, presentations were given by 9 experts, including Dr. Youssef KANJOU, the current Director of Antiquities and Museums of Aleppo. Presentations covered the Current State and Future Direction of the Syrian Civil War, Syria’s History and Cultural Heritage, the Extent of Destruction of Cultural Heritage by the Syrian Civil War, and Restoration of Cultural Heritage and National Recovery. A panel discussion followed the presentations, where the topic of What Should Be Done to Restore Syria’s Cultural Heritage Now and in the Future was actively discussed.