Asuka (Japon) : restoration of Takamatsuzaki mural

Progress seen in restoration of Takamatsuzaki mural

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From "Hekiga Kofun Takamatsuzuka"

Top: A group of women drawn on the tomb’s west wall photographed immediately after the mural’s discovery in March 1972

Bottom: The same image in August 2006 after it deteriorated due to a variety of factors including mold.


Courtesy of Cultural Affairs Agency

Below: The same image after it had been partially cleaned, with some smudges and mold removed. This November 2011 photograph shows some black smudges in the right blank space have  been removed.


Courtesy of the Cultural Affairs Agency

The Cultural Affairs Agency has announced progress in the cleaning of a colorful precious mural from the Takamatsuzuka ancient tomb in Asuka, Nara Prefecture, at a restoration facility in the village.

In making the announcement on Wednesday, the agency opened the facility to reporters to show the restoration’s progress. The 40th anniversary of the mural’s sensational discovery will be marked on March 21.

The mural, designated a national treasure after it was discovered in the stone chamber of the early eighth-century tomb, was removed in 2007 for restoration work because it had deteriorated due to a number of factors, including mold.

The mural is well known for bearing images of divine animals, as well as men and women in ancient court garments.

The agency said the restoration is progressing successfully, citing the removal of smudges on a section that bears the image of a group of women drawn on the west wall of the stone chamber

The agency said that after the discovery of the mural in 1972, humidity rose in the chamber to nearly 100 percent.

The air where the mural is currently stored has 55 percent humidity to prevent mold from growing.

The mural’s colors appear faded in the dry environment, but this does not affect its quality, the agency said.

Black and brown smudges have been removed from some blank spaces in the mural, the agency said.

The agency has not been able to start cleaning the mural’s images. It said a safe cleaning method that does not damage the mural’s color pigments is being considered.

The agency said the mural will be returned to the tomb after it completes the restoration work in fiscal 2017.

(The Yomiuri Shimbun, Mar 16, 2012)