The Art of Merit
Editors: David Park, Kuenga Wangmo and Sharon Cather
Archetype Publications 2013
Buddhist art – its nature, creation, function, conservation and contemporary manifestations – was the subject of the Buddhist Art Forum, a major conference held at The Courtauld Institute of Art in 2012 and sponsored by The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation. For the first time a representative group of those with a stake in Buddhist art – including art historians, conservators, curators and officials, a monk from Nepal and a contemporary artist – was gathered to address these issues.
The resulting ground-breaking volume has now been published by Archetype Publications. Its twenty-eight papers consider Buddhist art from the earliest Indian stupas to contemporary Himalayan thangkas, as well as its ritual use and audience, its tourist consumption in expanding economies, its often ill-conceived conservation, and its influence on modern and contemporary western art.
A stimulating range of viewpoints is expressed in this lavishly illustrated volume, making a genuine contribution to the awareness and understanding of these issues and developments that goes beyond regional and specialist boundaries.
Find out more
Looted, Recovered, Returned: Antiquities from Afghanistan
J. Ambers, C. R. Cartwright, C. Higgitt, D. Hook, E. Passmore, St J. Simpson, G. Verri, C. Ward and B. Wills
Archaeopress Archaeology 2014
A detailed scientific and conservation record of a group of ivory and bone furniture overlays excavated at Begram, stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan, privately acquired on behalf of Kabul, analysed and conserved at the British Museum and returned to the National Museum of Afghanistan in 2012.
The “Begram ivories” are widely considered to be miniature masterpieces of Indian art and are one of the largest archaeological collections of ancient ivories. They were excavated at the site of Begram, in northern Afghanistan, in 1937 and 1939 and belong to a period when Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India were united under rulers of the Kushan dynasty. Divided soon afterwards between the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul and the Musée national des arts asiatiques–Guimet in Paris, the collection in Kabul suffered a disaster during the civil war which ravaged the country during the early 1990s. Some of the pieces were successfully concealed by museum staff but most were stolen, hundreds have since been reported in different collections and very few have yet been recovered. In 2011 a group of twenty bone and ivory plaques was generously acquired for the National Museum of Afghanistan by a private individual. These were scientifically analysed, conserved and exhibited at the British Museum and returned to Kabul in 2012. This book describes their story from excavation to display and return, with individual object biographies and detailed scientific analyses and conservation treatments. It also discusses how these objects have attracted very different interpretations over the decades since their discovery, and how the new analyses shed a completely fresh light on the collection. It is lavishly illustrated in full colour, and includes many previously unpublished views of the objects when they were originally exhibited in Kabul. This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the archaeology of Afghanistan, Indian art, polychromy, museum studies, object biographies or the history of conservation.
Find out more
The Study and Conservation of the Silk Painting Death of the Buddha
Keisuke Sugiyama, Tim Clark, Janet Ambers and Giovanni Verri
in Technical Research Bulletin, ed. David Saunders, Vol. 8, Archetype Publications 2014
The painting of Death of the Buddha (1913,0501,0.40) has probably never been on display at the British Museum since it was acquired in 1913 due to its poor condition at that time. This fifteenth-century Buddhist painting was recently fully conserved and remounted as a hanging scroll. What is known of the painting’s history is explained and its condition before treatment is described as background to a full account of the entire treatment process. The successful conservation and mounting of a complex painting on silk as a hanging scroll requires a great number of treatment stages, each involving hundreds of careful steps. The overall procedure is here dealt with in three categories: conservation, mounting and the scientific analysis that helped to inform the treatment.
Find out more
Contributions to An Unbroken History: Conserving East Asian Works of Art and Heritage. Preprints of the IIC 2014 Hong Kong Congress.
Conservation Research At Dunhuang: The Pivotal Role Of Cave 260 For Conservation Education And Policy
Sharon Cather, Xudong Wang, Bomin Su, Stephen Rickerby, Lisa Shekede and Xiaowei Wang.
New Approaches To Conserving The Wall Painting Heritage In Bhutan
Stephen Rickerby, Lisa Shekede, Dorjee Tshering, Tshewang Gyalpo and David Park.
Vast and Dispersed: Developing Portable Facilities for Non-Invasive Analysis and Recording of Heritage Sites in China
Bomin Su, Zongren Yu and Sharon Cather