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The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin with the continued support of The Sumitomo Foundation in Tokyo, have now commissioned Restorient to conserve three more of their most treasured Japanese paintings. Dating from the early 17th century this set of hand scrolls chart the epic tale of "Hunting the Ogres" It will be possible to follow the conservation of these magnificent hand scrolls here on this blog. We at Restorient are delighted to have the opportunity to share this remarkable project, and to offer some insights into this type of specialist conservation.

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Monday 17 October 2011


Firm even strokes in the same direction as the grain of the paper

Kusaki-zome is the long established tradition in Japan of using dyes from plants and other natural sources. The dye color can be affected by such factors as the plant variety, the timing of the plant cutting, the dyeing season, and the dyeing technique. 

Those especially useful in scroll mounting range from peach bark, gardenia pods, kihada bark for yellows. The latter was also a recognised deterrent for insects and so often important documents would be treated with the yellow kihada dye. The dye which is the most commonly used in scroll mounting is made from boiling Alder cones (yasha) in water. This produces wonderfully warm shades of brown and is especially suitable for dyeing papers which will harmonise with older antique papers when used for repair or linings. The paper which was prepared using the alder cone dye for the first linings of the hand scrolls was a fine mulberry fibered paper called Mino-gami.

The sheets were dried on felts after dyeing. They were then washed in cold water before being rinsed in a weak lye solution to fix the colour. One further rinse, dried again and then they were ready for use. 

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