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Painting Materials and Techniques of Kizil’s Mural Paintings
Ichiro Sato
Professor, Tokyo University of Art
Professor, Kanazawa College of Art
Kizil Caves was once one of the important Buddhist temples in ancient Qiuci country in Xinjiang Province, China. Qiuci country had once flourished over many centuries as located in the mid-point of the so-called Silk Road. Kizil Caves has a great value because of the numerous Buddhist caves known for its highest degree of art and its religious worth.
We got JSPS’s Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research titled "Silk Road: The Research Study of Painting Materials and Techniques of Kizil’s Mural Paintings" (The basic research overseas 2012: Grant Number 24401021). The aim of this research project is to give light on painting materials and techniques on Kizil’s mural paintings, which are preserved in-situ and can be seen in the Museum of Asian Art in Berlin during the 4- year research duration (2012-2015).
We are making an investigation focusing on the following five points.
1. Supreme-high resolution images of mural paintings through infrared fluorescence, ultraviolet, raking, and normal lightings
2. Scientific detailed analysis on constituent materials for both inorganic/organic pigments and binding media within multi-layered structure.
3. 14C dating using chaff/animal hair in mural earthen renders
4. Identification of exact locations of the mural fragments through iconographical and historical documents
5. Technical reconstruction of Kizil murals for possible original colors and painting materials through scientific analysis
Based on the above scientific and materials research results, we are now re-examining the manufacturing dating and the styles against conventional studies.
The Kucha Academy of Xinjiang, China and Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan signed a cooperation agreement on March 19, 2013 for the “China and Japan Joint Project: Research on the Painting Techniques and Materials for the Partial Mural Paintings in Kizil Caves”. Investigations are on-going on caves 069, 224 and 167. Now we are carrying out a survey of this matter in accordance with the agreement.