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


Inspection of Japan-made Works of Mother-of-Pearl with Underpaint Found in Bangkok, Thailand

Study of door panels of Wat Nang Chi ordination hall

 Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) is providing technological support to restore the door panels of Wat Rajpradit (built in 1864), a first-grade royal Buddhist temple located in Bangkok, Thailand, at the request of this temple and the Fine Arts Department, Ministry of Culture of Thailand. Lacquerwork produced by employing the “mother-of-pearl with underpaint” technique, which was used to make these door panels, was primarily exported to the West in the 19th century. However, TNRICP confirmed for the first time that these door panels were Japan-made, on the basis of the technique and materials utilized, indicating that Japan-made mother-of-pearl with underpaint had also been exported to Thailand.
 Restoration work is not just the behavior of repairing damage but should also be an opportunity to better understand the cultural property concerned. When it was discovered that the door panels at Wat Rajpradit were Japan-made, there were reports of works made with a similar technique at several locations in Thailand. A careful inspection was conducted, which included detailed record-making through polarized light photography of a portion of these works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint located in Bangkok, such as the door panels at Wat Nang Chi, a temple maintained in its present form since the reign of King Rama III (1824–1851), and the cover plates of the palm leaf manuscripts stored at the National Library of Thailand. The study was performed from January 27th to February 2nd, 2019, in association with experts from related Japanese and Thai agencies.
 Even among Japan-exported lacquerwork, there are few cases of scientific research being pursued into works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint, and its background is unclear. Palm leaf manuscripts are palm leaves on which sutras or other documents are written, and bound with string. A pair of cover plates are used to protect palm leaf manuscripts. As palm leaf manuscripts are unique to Southeast Asia and South Asia, it is surmised that the cover plates, as with the door panels, were produced after an order was placed from Thailand. There is great potential for works of mother-of-pearl with underpaint found in Thailand, such as the door panels at Wat Rajpradit and Wat Nang Chi, to contribute to research into this technique itself, and studies will continue to be pursued in Japan and Thailand.


Presentations at the “Present State of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives and Their Application” Symposium

RATI Poetry and Painting Exhibition “Avant-Garde Art Display” (Nanshin Kaikan, 1951) Group Photo (from Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives)
Scene of a presentation (photo contributed by Hiromasa NAGANUMA)

 The symposium “Present State of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives and Their Application” was held at Suwako Museum and Akahiko Memorial Hall in Shimosuwa Town, Nagano Prefecture, on February 16th, 2019. Hideki KIKKAWA of the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems gave a presentation entitled “Application of the Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives to Art History Research: Examples of Two Avant-Garde Art Events Held in Suwa City in 1951.”
 This symposium was held as part of the “Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives Application Project,” an initiative implemented in association with local communities in order to support the creation of art galleries and history museums, which was led by the Agency for Cultural Affairs in 2018. It was sponsored by the archives application committee comprising members from Yutaka MATSUZAWA’s surviving family members, volunteers, and Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum. In the first part of the symposium, presentations related to the archives were delivered by six people: Haruo MATSUZAWA (Executive Director of the General Incorporated Foundation MATSUZAWA Yutaka Psi Room), Arata TANI (art critic), Yoshiko SHIMADA (artist), Kenya HIRAGA (Director of Nagano Prefectural Library), and Hideki KIKKAWA. In the second part of the symposium, a discussion moderated by Toru MATSUMOTO (Director of the Nagano Prefectural Shinano Art Museum) was held, in which participants expressed their views on the archives’ application and exchanged opinions on their application from the perspective of their respective expertise.
 The Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives comprise a vast amount of precious materials from the 1950s to the 2000s. In applying them toward the art history research mentioned in this symposium, the theme for grants-in-aid for scientific research “Research into Post-1968 Expressive Community: Yutaka MATSUZAWA Archives as the Cornerstone” (Basic Research ©, FY2018–2020) will continue to be pursued in association with researchers from diverse fields.


Pair of Hanging Scroll Paintings of the Fudōmyōo (Skt.Acala): Seminar Held by the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems

Scene of the seminar [image: Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala) and Two Attendants at Zenrin-ji Temple]

 The 9th Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Seminar was held on February 28th, 2019. Rei MAIZAWA (Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems) gave a presentation entitled “Pair of Hanging Scroll Paintings of the Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala): Zenrin-ji Temple and Kōki-ji Temple,” and Tetsuei TSUDA (Aoyama Gakuin University) was invited as a commentator.
 The presentation was with regard to “Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala) and Two Attendants” at Zenrin-ji Temple, Kyoto, and “Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala) and Four Attendants” at Kōki-ji Temple, Osaka. After providing a detailed description of the pair of paintings and the style of painting, Maizawa deduced that they were produced in the late Kamakura Period and the late Nanbokucho Period, respectively. Indicating the similarity between the two paintings in that the Skt. Acala is depicted in the center flanked by two attendants, she went on to explain how the preexisting Skt. Acala image found in Zenrin-ji Temple was most likely used as a reference when producing the rare image of the “Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala) and Four Attendants.”
 The belief in the Skt. Acala, a deity in esoteric Buddhism, was popular in the early Heian Period. Numerous depictions of the Skt. Acala were made in the form of sculptures and paintings. Original Skt. Acala images that did not exist earlier were produced during the Middle Ages in Japan, and “Fudōmyōo (Skt. Acala) and Four Attendants” at Kōki-ji Temple is one of them. A detailed consideration of the pair of images will reveal some insights into the diverse production of Skt. Acala images.
 At the seminar, internal and external researchers engaged in a lively discussion on how the Skt. Acala was worshiped, the origin of the pair of images, and what they express.

/ MAIZAWA Rei)

2018 Liaison Council for “Disaster Prevention of Intangible Culture Heritage” (Kansai Area)

Council held at the Kyoto Art Center

 The Liaison Council for “Disaster Prevention of Intangible Culture Heritage” for the Kansai Area was held on February 3rd, 2019 as part of the “Project to Build a Comprehensive Database for Cultural Assets and Establish a Network.” This project is an initiative undertaken by the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage and the Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems as part of the promotion program of the National Taskforce for the Japanese Cultural Heritage Disaster Risk Mitigation Network (Agency for Cultural Affairs’ subsidized project). This council has been ongoing since 2016 for sharing information among nationwide prefectural representatives responsible for folk cultural properties.
 This council was co-organized by the Kyoto Art Center in Kyoto City where representatives from six prefectures and one city in the Kansai Area assembled. Representatives from the Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP), included Hiromichi KUBOTA, Megumi MAEHARA, Tomo ISHIMURA, and Riyo KIKUCHI.
 At the council, participants shared their opinions on the significance of creating a database, and gave presentations on the current state of intangible cultural assets in their respective prefectures. Issues ranging from natural disasters, the various risks that intangible cultural assets face to transmitting preservation techniques and applications were discussed. The current state of intangible cultural assets and issues in each region were shared as valuable information.
On March 1st, a second council was held at TNRICP with participation from the representatives of 10 prefectures.


2nd Study Meeting on Production of Visual Documentation for Intangible Cultural Heritage

Scene from the study meeting

 The 2nd study meeting titled “Production of Visual Documentation for Intangible Cultural Heritage” was held on February 22nd, 2019.
 Many intangible cultural heritages are predicated on intangible human “techniques.” In addition to written records, video records serve an important role in recording these “techniques.” The issue then becomes what kind of video recordings should be created.
 The Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties held the Sub-conference on Video Recording of Intangible Folk Cultural Properties from 2003 to 2007, and the results were released in the “Guidance on the production of recorded videos for intangible folk cultural properties.” However, in recent years, the video industry has undergone marked changes, particularly in the development of digital equipment, so there are expectations that the content be updated. Although the aforementioned guidance was created mainly for the video recording of folk art, there are expectations for it to be applied toward other types of intangible cultural heritage such as craft skills and folk techniques.
 Thus, with the intention of creating a new “Handbook for the production of visual documentation for intangible cultural heritage,” the Institute convened a study meeting titled “Production of Visual Documentation for Intangible Cultural Heritage” from 2018 to consider the content. This study meeting is the second one convened.
 In the first half of the meeting, an expert Hirohito KANAMORI (Over4K Ltd.) spoke on 4K/8K video technology, which has been attracting attention in recent years. He discussed the possibilities for this technology, and its application toward the recording of cultural properties and heritage. As 4K/8K technology will improve the color reproducibility (i.e., color gamut and brightness) as well as high definition images, there is significance for this technology in recording cultural properties.
 In the latter half of the meeting, participants discussed the contents of the “Handbook for the production of visual documentation for intangible cultural heritage” by chapter. Participants made various proposals that included keeping in mind that the record creation method will differ depending on the type of intangible cultural heritage and to also take heed of preserving and applying video record media taken in the past (film or electromagnetic tape, etc.) The Institute will refer to these opinions in creating the “Handbook for the production of visual documentation for intangible cultural heritage.”


A Mission for the Project “Technical Assistance for the Protection of the Damaged Cultural Heritage in Nepal” (Part 11)

Investigating a sample from target building
Sample with the finishing layer from each period carved out in tiers

 As part of this project commissioned by the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese Government, a compositional analysis of the finishing layer of a group of buildings adjacent to Aganchen Temple at Hanumandhoka Palace, Kathmandu, was performed using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, etc., from February 22nd to 28th, 2019, with permission from the Department of Archaeology, Government of Nepal.
 On-site surveys conducted so far have revealed that a number of extensions and structural alterations had been made to these buildings. In particular, the wall finish recoating history and the remaining finishing layers at hidden areas of retrofitted support members are important clue in learning about the changes to the buildings. Study on the specifications and coloring of each recoated layer has continued.
 This time, the composing materials of the finishing layers were identified in order to understand how specifications changed according to the times, and a scientific analysis was performed using an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and a Raman spectrometry system to examine the history of extensions and structural alterations.
 A fragment of the finishing layers investigated comprised a maximum of 10 different sets of layers. Surface and undercoat layers from each period were carved out in tiers and analyzed.
 Red iron oxide and minute amounts of gold were confirmed in red-colored areas of the old mural painting layer, and a spectrum quite similar to lapis lazuli was derived from the sky-blue finishing layer recoated in later years. While a detailed analysis of the derived data has yet to be performed, it can be inferred from the use of such precious materials that these buildings had continued to be used as important ritual or residential spaces for a royal family since their initial construction in the 17th century.
 In the process of surveying the remains, a mural painting was discovered behind the extended wall section, and it is possible that this mural dates back to a period just after the original construction of the building. Further surveys, including through scientific methods, such as the one used this time, and studies of appropriate preservation measures are still needed.
 Hereafter, we will continue to elucidate the history concealed in the buildings themselves, and while preserving such significant material evidence, we will consider how to go about restoring these buildings in association with the Nepalese counterpart.

/ TOMODA Masahiko, MASUBUCHI Maria, ASADA Natsumi)

Conservation and Restoration of the Outer Walls of Brick Temples and Studies of Mural Paintings in Bagan, Myanmar (2)

(Workshop for young local specialists)
Manuha Temple Group, No.1 Temple

 The restoration work implemented from July to August, 2018, at Me-taw-ya (No. 1205) Temple, which is a brick temple at the Bagan Archaeological Site in Myanmar, was continued during the period from January 14th to February 3rd, 2019, and the outer wall of the brick temple was restored mainly to protect the mural paintings from rain leaks. The restoration of the damaged area caused by the 2016 earthquake is still ongoing in Bagan, and local specialists have asked us for advice on creating repair strategy in line with current conditions and on restoration methods. In response to this request for assistance, we conducted a workshop for five local conservators and five engineers and discussed solutions while listening to their issues.
 Meanwhile, we conducted a study on mural painting techniques and iconography in Myanmar. We collected detailed information particularly on works from the heyday of Bagan in the 13th century. We also visited towns such as Amin and Anayn along the Chindwin River, where many mural paintings from the 17th–18th centuries can be found. Research on existing mural paintings in Myanmar has been largely completed and we will reflect the results of the study in the restoration methods.
 This time, we heard from some of local specialists that quite a few of continuing international projects for cultural property protection conducted by foreign countries are difficult to actually establish and that few post-earthquake preservation activities lead to a solution of the fundamental problem. While we have implemented our work until now with such awareness, we will put further efforts into proposing more practical improvement measures and transmitting sustainable restoration techniques.


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