Wed, Jun 17, 2020

Ancient document travels from Nara to Kyoto for Tsumugu Project restoration

A restorer, left, explains the “Letters soliciting donations for Sennyu-ji temple” while people related to the restoration look at the work, at Nara National Museum in Nara on June 15. (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

A national treasure called “Letters soliciting donations for Sennyu-ji temple” was transported to a restoration facility in Kyoto on June 15, as the new period for the Tsumugu Project got underway.

The document belongs to Sennyu-ji temple in Kyoto, which has ties with the Imperial family, and was sent to the Kyoto facility by the Nara National Museum in Nara, which is entrusted with storing it.

In the fiscal 2020 period of the project — which subsidizes the restoration of cultural assets and is promoted by the Cultural Affairs Agency, the Imperial Household Agency and The Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo) — the restoration of seven national treasures and important cultural assets were chosen to be subsidized. It is financed by company donations for the project and part of the revenues from special exhibitions.

In the fiscal 2019 program, work started on restoring eight items, including a Buddhist statue of the deity Fugen Bosatsu, a national treasure stored by the Tokyo National Museum.

“Letters soliciting donations for Sennyu-ji temple” was created by Shunjo, a Buddhist priest in the Kamakura period (ca 1192-1333) who studied Buddhist theories in China during the Southern Song dynasty and later established Sennyu-ji temple.

The document is a precious historical record that tells of the social circumstances surrounding Buddhism in those years, and the calligraphic skills used in the document are also highly praised.

Due to degradation caused by aging, pigment and ink have flaked off in some places and cracks have appeared on other parts of the surface of the document.

The restoration work aims to stop more pigment and ink from coming off and to reinforce the cracked parts from the back. Sheets of backing paper will also be replaced with new ones.

(From The Japan News)

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