Restoring of items from Japanese collection
thanks to National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo
The Japanese collection of the Náprstek Museum is very large and represents time and money demanding task for restoring. Original beauty is returned to many items e.g. to vertical scrolls, sword blades and textile items with the help of a special programme of integrated collection preservation organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic. The Japanese side also participates in restoring selected masterpieces all over the world.
Examples of antique Japanese art in overseas collections have long played the role of „Japanese cultural ambassador“ to other countries and cultures. However, quite a few of these works have fallen into disrepair in their overseas homes due to climatic conditions that differ from those of Japan or from damage that has occurred while on public display.
In 1991, the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs began cooperative Program for the Conservation of Japanese Art Objects Overseas with the aim of bringing art works in need back to Japan for conservation treatment.
As for the items conserved for the National Museum - Náprstek Museum of Asian, African and American Cultures it was a screen depicting Hōgen monogatari that was restored in the years 2006-2007 in the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties and then in 2009 within the seminar on restoring Japanese lacquerware in Köln a small tea caddy was also restored for the Japanese collection of the Náprstek Museum (inv.no. 34 698, 18th century).
In the year 2009-2011 a lacquered cabinet with lozenge design, 17th century, lacquered wood with mother-of –pearl inlaid decoration, dimensions: h. 25.4 cm, w. 37.3 cm, d. 25.1 cm, (inv.no. 34 942) was restored in Tōkyō.
Lacquered cabinet with lozenge design
Condition before treatment (treatment period: June 2009-March2011):
Grime and dust adhered to the surface overall and the ground lacquer joints revealed shallow cracking. Western coating materials had been applied over a wide area and it had discoloured to a yellowish tone. Previous repair attempts had included re-attachment of mother-of-pearl pieces and the addition of new pieces of mother-of-pearl. Some of the areas of makie and drawn lines had lifted and fallen away, while areas of added abrasive intervention in Western coating materials were visible.
Grime and dust were removed from the surface and solvent was used to carefully remove Western coating materials. Aqueous animal glue solution was infused to reattach areas of lifted mother-of-pearl. The white ground that had been filled in around the mother-of-pearl segments was removed. Clear lacquer was applied to strengthen the weakened lacquer ground and makie areas. Mugi-urushi was infused into areas of cracking and splitting in the basis joints to strengthen them. The areas of missing substrate were filled with kokuso lacquer paste.
Many thanks to the National Research Institute for Cultural Properties, Tokyo, for the interest in the items proving high quality of the Japanese decorative art and crafts in the collection of the Náprstek Museum and namely for the restoring them into their original beauty.