|■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
A scene from the lecture
Located in Norwich, the county capital of Norfolk, SISJAC is among the prominent institutions of studies on Japanese arts and culture in Europe. Since 2013, SISJAC and Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties have been working on a joint project—“The Project to Shaping the Fundamentals of Research on Japanese Art”—through which documents related to Japanese art that are written in English and published outside Japan are provided by SISJAC and made available on the Institute’s website. Also, as part of the project, researchers of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems have been visiting Norwich annually to hold consultation with SISJAC and conduct lectures on related topics. In fiscal 2018, two researchers, Tomoko EMURA and Takuyo YASUNAGA, visited Norwich from November 13th to 16th to achieve the mission.
During the consultation, various issues were addressed, including low number of access to the data provided by SISJAC and problems caused by special English characters and inconsistencies in romanized Japanese characters in entering data. In response, the Institute presented an estimate of the number of access to the data and its future policy to standardize the entry of special English characters and romanized Japanese.
On November 15th, YASUNAGA gave a lecture entitled “A pair of scroll paintings: The triple images of Yosa Buson’s ‘Kite and Crows’” at the Weston Room of Norwich Cathedral, with interpretation provided by Dr. Simon KANER, Executive Director of the Sainsbury Institute. The lecture was conducted as part of a regular lecture event focused on general audience and offered by SISJAC on every third Thursday of the month. This event enjoyed an attendance of about 80 people who listened with much enthusiasm, showing the popularity of Japanese art in the UK.
A scene from the seminar
The sixth monthly seminar in fiscal 2018, organized by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems, was held on November 27th. Dr. Emi MIYAKO, a part-time lecturer at the Tokyo University of the Arts, was the guest speaker, giving a presentation entitled, “History of Technical Development of Coloring on Silk: A Study on the Painting of Mahamayuri Vidyaraja (Kujaku Myoo) Owned by the Ninna-ji Temple.” Designated a national treasure in Japan, the painting of Mahamayuri Vidyaraja is a work that some historians date as early as the Northern Song Dynasty. Its exceptionally high standard of artistry is expressed in its dynamic rendering of elements, including the feathers of the peacock that appear as if they are moving. Distinctive realism found in this work is in stark contrast to conventional styles of Japanese Buddhist paintings.
Dr. MIYAKO is an art historian with numerous academic achievements, as well as an artist who has been producing many outstanding artworks. In her presentation, Dr. MIYAKO compared a same sized copy of a painting made by GENSYO of Jisyo-in of Ninna-ji Temple in 1779 (Edo period), which uses the sukiutsushi technique (tracing of the original by laying silk cloth over it) with the painting of Mahamayuri Vidyaraja, and revealed that the Japanese silk support was sewn together whereas the Chinese version was seamless. In addition, she presented many samples of silk cloths to show how different results can be when sizing is applied on the silk supports, even if similar painting techniques are used. An expression of artistry, or simply put “beauty” dwells in the “forms” in the work, and such “forms” are supported by realistic and physical techniques. However, this is one area, which classical methodology of art history was unable to tap. Through analyses of support, line drawings, coloring, and coloring materials, Dr. MIYAKO provided insightful knowledge, suggesting that further achievements can be expected from her future studies.
Appearance of the venue.
Inscription of “Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” was adopted by the committee.
The Thirteenth session of the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage took place in Port Louis, the capital of Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean, from November 26th through December 1st, 2018. Two researchers from this Institute attended the session.
At this session, whether or not “Raiho-shin, ritual visits of deities in masks and costumes” nominated by Japan should be inscribed on the Representative List was discussed. The Committee decided its inscription on November 29th. At the Sixth session of the Intergovernmental Committee in 2011, the similarity of “Oga no Namahage, New Year visiting of masked deities in Oga, Akita” nominated by Japan to “Koshikijima no Toshidon (visiting deity that occurs every New Year’s Eve on Shimo-Koshiki Island),” which had already been inscribed on the Representative List, was pointed out. In response to the decision of the referral of the element by the Committee, ten nationally designated Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties (protecting groups identified) including “Oga no Namahage, New Year visiting of masked deities in Oga, Akita,” “Paantu” on Miyako Island in Okinawa Prefecture, and “Boze” on Akuseki Island in Kagoshima Prefecture were grouped into the expanded “Koshikijima no Toshidon” as its elements. Therefore, the number of Japan’s intangible cultural heritage elements inscribed on the Representative List remains twenty-one. However, more Japanese cultural properties have been inscribed as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage.
It is highly important that “Reggae music” nominated by Jamaica was inscribed on the Representative List among the other properties examined by the Committee this time. Inscription of “Reggae music” might not have been decided at this session since the Evaluation Body initially recommended the element to be referred back to the State Party. However, a discussion by the Committee members resulted in inscription.
Japan serves as a Committee member from 2018 to 2022. Also at this session, the Japanese delegation introduced two cases of intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent safeguarding with a focus on Japan’s efforts making a significant contribution: “Disaster Prevention for Intangible Cultural Heritage” on which this Institute works, and “Research on Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) Safeguarding and Disaster Risk Management in the Asia-Pacific Region” with which the International Research Centre for Intangible Cultural Heritage in the Asia-Pacific Region (IRCI) deals. Japan is expected to continually make a presence at the Intergovernmental Committee.
On the other hand, we felt concerned about how the Committee meeting should be developed. In recent years, referral recommendation by the Evaluation Body is often turned into inscription decision by the Committee. Occasionally, we also came across such cases at this session. In some cases, proceedings that are not accepted in the guideline for the Convention were decided by the Committee. In fact, some signatory States Parties expressed concern about such a policy of the Committee, causing a stir in its ruling idea for the coming session.
Metalwork removed from the float for restoration (shaft-point metalwork).
Mr. Kiyoshi TSUJI engaged in restoration work.
The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage has been researching and studying conservation techniques for cultural properties. To hand down tangible and intangible cultural properties to the coming generation, it is necessary to conserve and inherit the techniques required for conservation and restoration of cultural properties, as well as manufacturing technologies for the materials and tools used for them, in addition to cultural heritage itself. In Japan, we call these techniques “conservation techniques for cultural properties” under the Act on Protection of Cultural Properties. By selecting those that particularly require conservation measures as “selected conservation techniques,” great effort has been put into their conservation and protection. According to each nation, techniques subject to safeguarding are just a small percentage of the whole. We think this Institute should play a leading role in paying attention to the techniques not selected by the national government as subjects of our research and study.
In FY 2018, we conducted a survey for Mr. Kiyoshi TSUJI, a holder of the “Hikiyama Metalwork Restoration” technique selected for conservation by the Shiga Prefectural Government jointly with the Shiga Prefectural Board of Education. Mr. Tsuji has been engaged with restoration of numerous festival floats as a holder of the restoration technique for metalwork such as metal ornaments for floats used in the “Nagahama Hikiyama Festival” designated as one of the nation’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties, also serving as an element composing “Yama, Hoko, Yatai, float festivals in Japan” inscribed on the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list. At present, he is working on restoration of the metalwork for the float of Kin-ei Town (Hogiku Float) used for the “Hino Hikiyama Festival” (prefecturally designated intangible folk cultural property) held in Hino Town, Shiga Prefecture. We have been surveying and video-recording the restoration process.
Needless to say, festival floats are essential for the implementation of the Hikiyama Festival. Accordingly, conservation of and succession to the festival as an intangible cultural property require a restoration technique for the floats. It is true that successors to such technique are insufficient. Our research and study aims not only to conserve and record the technique for the coming generation but also to highlight the conservation techniques for such cultural properties attracting less attention for their significance.
Ongoing general discussion
In recent years, cultural properties have been attracting more attention. In response to their promoted utilization, the number of cultural properties that need restoration has been increasing. Under the circumstances, conventional restoration approaches and concepts are not applicable in many cases. In the light of the current situation, the “Seminar on the Current Status of Restoration of Cultural Properties and Its Issues” took place on November 22nd, 2018. Sharing a restoration overview of the past, experts specializing in cultural property areas introduced the issues identified during the current restoration process.
Guest Professor Toshikazu SASAKI from Hokkaido University, who specializes in historical materials, delivered a lecture on the conservation of historical materials and issues of conservation of folk materials under the title of “Thoughts on Restoration of Arts and Crafts” based on his vast experience accumulated in the Tokyo National Museum, the Agency for Cultural Affairs, and the National Museum of Ethnology. Senior Specialist Tomohiko JINUSHI from the Agency for Cultural Affairs reported “Achievements and Issues in Recent Restoration of Historical Materials” including detailed cases under the existing conditions. Curator Hitomi KITAMURA from the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo presented the details of recent restoration of the collection and the issues in that process under the title of the “Current Status of Restoration of Cultural Properties and Recent Issues -With a Focus on ‘Twelve Hawks’-.” Chief Noriyuki NAKANO from the Kyoto Prefectural Government reported what kinds of discussions are actually conducted in restoration and how necessary decision-making should be done. During the general discussion, the audience asked many questions, which resulted in an active Q&A session. The seminar attracted 104 people, who expressed expectations for our continually providing an opportunity to exchange information on the restoration of cultural properties on a large scale through a post-seminar questionnaire survey. The details of this seminar will be published as a report next year.
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.
Exchanging opinions in the oil painting restoration laboratory
Ongoing survey on educational facilities
As part of the above-mentioned program commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, we visited Turkish universities which have cultural property conservation and restoration courses to survey their educational systems from November 4th to 9th, 2018. For FY 2018, we made visits to the Department of Cultural Heritage Conservation and Restoration, the Faculty of Fine Arts, Ankara University, and the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Movable Cultural Assets, the Faculty of Letters, Istanbul University, in addition to the Department of Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Properties, the Faculty of Fine Arts, Ankara Hacı Bayram Veli University (former Gazi University) which has been cooperating in the key training program of this project, “Examination and Implementation of Emergency Procedures for Wall Painting Conservation.” At each university, faculty members delivered a presentation on teaching programs restoration techniques together with briefing on educational facilities. We also tried to clarify and share the current educational issues associated with conservation of cultural properties through opinion exchanges.
Taking advantage of its merits as a university organization, every university endeavored to solve facility and human resource shortages by promoting joint projects with another course and a local government concerned. The faculty members of each university were experts who had been technically trained for conservation and restoration of cultural properties in the western countries and Europe regardless of their training periods. On the other hand, we found that it would be essential to reinforce their educational systems further for diverse cultural properties in need scattered throughout Turkey.
Many of the graduates from these universities are now working for the national conservation and restoration centers, to which the trainees of the mural painting conservation program belong. The outcomes of this survey will be utilized for our deeper understanding of their educational backgrounds.
A survey at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Old Japanese works of art owned by overseas museums and art galleries play an important role in introducing Japanese culture. However, due to a shortage of overseas experts in the conservation and restoration of such works, proper measures are not taken and numerous works cannot be exhibited or utilized. Therefore, this Institute has undertaken a project to cooperate in the conservation and restoration of overseas old Japanese works of art for their proper conservation and utilization. This time, we surveyed the works possessed by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which strongly requested us to cooperate in the restoration of its collection having great significance. Located in Montreal, the Museum which was founded as the Art Association of Montreal in 1860, is the oldest museum in Canada. Today, it has more than 43,000 pieces of works from ancient times to modern times, which include several Japanese arts and crafts.
For the survey conducted from November 26th through 28th, 2018, four staff members of the Institute visited there: Masato KATO and Hee Jae WON from Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation; Tomoko EMURA and Rei MAIZAWA from the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems. We surveyed 15 artworks (17 pieces) of Japanese-style paintings and 3 artworks of Japanese textiles by considering their needs and urgency for restoration, as well as their value in the art history.
We will share the information obtained through the survey with the curators and conservators of the Museum for smooth conservation and exhibition of the works.
Practical work on applying urushi
The Workshop on Conservation and Restoration of Urushi Objects was held at Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Museen Köln (Museum of East Asian Art, Cologne), Germany, from November 26th to 30th, 2018. Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has conducted the annual workshops with the cooperation of the Museum since 2007. The aim of the workshop is to preserve and utilize urushi objects (lacquerware) in museum collections outside Japan. This year’s workshop was the basic course focusing on the knowledge and techniques required for storing, maintaining and handling the urushi objects, and six conservators attended from several countries around the world.
The lectures included the chemical structure and properties of urushi, the structure and decorations of urushi objects, the typical damages and degradation, and the appropriate storage environment. Case studies on conservation and restoration of urushi objects in Japan were also introduced, and principles of restoration and processes of applied treatments were explained. The practical work on applying urushi to the wooden spoons helped the participants to understand the characteristics of urushi more clearly. Furthermore, the participants experienced the remedial treatment of an urushi object such as stabilizing the damaged areas and cleaning the surface. The ways of selecting and making of tools used in conservation were also explained. On the last day of the workshop, various topics, for example, the differences on conservation ethics and principles between the East and the West and the possible application of knowledge and techniques acquired in this workshop were discussed.
It is hoped that introducing the fundamental knowledge and Japanese conservation techniques of urushi objects to the conservation specialists overseas will contribute to the safer preservation and utilization of the urushi objects overseas.
The on-site workshop in Bagan
Since the August 2016 Chauk Earthquake in Myanmar, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) has been carrying out research and survey activities directed at improving the quality of the conservation work of the damaged historic brick buildings in Bagan, as part of a cooperation project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government (recommissioned by the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, NNRICP). On November 13th and 14th, 2018, two workshops were held at the Myanmar Engineering Society (Yangon) and the Bagan Branch Office of the Department of Archaeology and National Museum (Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture) respectively, to share the results of this project with local experts.
Members of TNRICP and Japanese experts were lecturers at the workshops and they focused on three main topics: traditional brick masonry techniques, structural features of brick buildings, and chemical analysis of traditional mortar. In addition, local experts from each partner institution made presentations on the current state of conservation and repair works of brick buildings in Bagan. The workshops concluded with a questions and answers session and an opinion exchange between Japanese and local experts.
The results of this project will be published in a report and shared with the local experts so that they can be applied further to conservation and restoration work.
In addition, the Third Technical Coordination Forum for Safeguarding Bagan and the First International Coordination Committee (ICC) was held in Bagan on November 17th and 18th, 2018. The objective of the meeting, chaired by the Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture, was to share information and coordinate efforts between different local and foreign expert teams carrying out conservation work at Bagan. Experts from TNRICP took part in the meeting and made a presentation on the currently ongoing cooperation projects by TNRICP and NNRICP.