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A Discovery Triggered by the Conservation Practices of the Kizil Grotto Mural Paintings
Xu Yongming
The Kizil grottoes were founded in the 3rd century AD, and declined in the 9th century AD. The total number of caves that have been found amount to 379, of which 246 caves have been assigned numbers. There remains about 10,000 square meters of murals and partly painted sculptures, and several building construction ruins in the front of the caves.
The vulnerability in the grotto architecture and mural texture has been further influenced by the long-term natural disintegration such as natural erosion, flood, sudden disasters (such as earthquakes), as well as artificial destruction such as religious disputes, and predatory robbery by foreign expeditions. The complex variety of threats to the Kizil grotto murals is constantly accelerating the process of erosion.
Since the 1980s we have had the strong support of the government, and massive protection and restoration efforts have been made towards repairing Qiuci grottoes and murals, including the Kizil grottoes. By analysing the methods, materials, and techniques for protection and restoration, as well as effectiveness and timeliness, etc., sthe author concludes that the development of further decay has been restrained. However, the techniques do not fundamentally solve the problem of mural decay or prevent its further development.
This paper examines the practice of protection and restoration of the Qiuci grotto murals, and it makes a general analysis of the development in China and abroad of research into techniques for ancient mural protection. At the same time, it examines the conservation practices of Kizil grottoes murals, and objectively outlines the kinds of problems existing in the protection and restoration of murals.