Old artifact repair treatments shared at seminar

Wu Huixin
To better preserve fragile textiles, China National Silk Museum held a seminar, inviting professionals across the nation to discuss innovative technologies and share ideas.
Wu Huixin

China National Silk Museum has developed into the largest organization repairing ancient textiles in China, providing its services to more than 50 museums across China.

During recent years, a number of top-notch treasures have been restored by experts from the museum.

In a bid to better preserve these fragile unearthed antiques, the museum hosted a seminar on June 21 in Hangzhou, inviting professionals across the nation to discuss innovative technologies and share ideas about artifact protection.

Last year, the Dunhuang Academy signed an agreement with the museum to participate in restoration and conduct research into unearthed silk antiques.

The Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a vital hub on the ancient Silk Road. It featured a number of silk paintings and textiles buried in grottoes throughout history. Some of the fragile textiles are under restoration by professionals from the silk museum.

"Gansu Province is home to numerous Buddhism grottoes. Our academy has developed a big data platform to supervise humidity inside them and set up an alarm system to limit tourist numbers," said Wang Xiaowei, director of supervision at Dunhuang Academy.

"The dry climate in Dunhuang kept the frescos for millennia. In modern days, we protect them through technologies more effectively than before."

At the seminar, research results from the study of a terracotta figurine unearthed from Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site were showcased. The costume patterns and waist belt design were enhanced by technology, and the fingerprints on the surface showed the figurine maker was a teenager.

"We analyzed the pigments, clay materials and microbes on the terracotta fragments and then virtually replicated all the pieces on the computer system before we tried to restore the figurine," said Zhou Ping, vice curator of Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum.

"The analysis is a must-do preparation work for restoring an antique. It's just like seeing a doctor before taking a pill. That helps."

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