Sun, Aug 11, 2019

Repair work starts on ‘Raigo of Amida and Twenty-five Attendants’ in Kyoto

Chion-in administrator Shoshin Maeda, third from right, is briefed on the condition of “Raigo of Amida (Amitabha) and Twenty-five Attendants” by a restoration expert. (The Yomiuri Shimbun)

KYOTO – Raigo of Amida (Amitabha) and Twenty-five Attendants, a painting designated as a national treasure, was brought to a restoration facility at the Kyoto National Museum on Thursday. It is the first masterpiece eligible for repair under the Tsumugu Project: Promoting, Restoring and Preserving the Beauty of Japan’s Art, which is jointly organized by the Cultural Affairs Agency, the Imperial Household Agency and The Yomiuri Shimbun. 

The 14th-century painting – held by Chion-in temple in Kyoto and entrusted to the museum – is undergoing repair work for the first time in 85 years. 

Raigo of Amida (Amitabha) and Twenty-five Attendants features a detailed depiction of Amida and a retinue of Buddhist saints descending on clouds to receive a dying person, who is reciting a Buddhist invocation in the hopes of entering paradise. It is done on a large screen measuring 1.45 meters by 1.55 meters. 

It is called Hayaraigo-zu, or depiction of the rapid descent of Amida, because of the sense of speed created by Amida’s diagonal descent across the painting. 

The artwork was moved from the museum’s treasure house earlier in the day and hung on the wall of the restoration facility. Chion-in administrator Shoshin Maeda, restoration experts and others closely examined the condition of the painting. 

Yoshitoyo Ohara, the chair of the Department of Conservation and Restoration at the museum, said the painting appears to be suffering from discoloration and horizontal creases due to aging. 

“By replacing the paper that supports the painting from behind, the blue color of the water and other details will better stand out,” Ohara said.



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