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Trial repair finished for 20 damaged cultural relics at Old Summer Palace

07-19-2010 15:40 BJT

On July 14, the first batch of 20 damaged porcelains has finished trial repairs. Several experts said at the evaluation meeting that some of the repair methods still need to be discussed, and that the quality is not good.

The porcelains were repaired using three methods

One month earlier, the China Cultural Relics Protection Foundation‘s Technological Protection Special Fund Committee announced that it will repair 150 damaged cultural relics for the Old Summer Palace, and the first batch consists of 20 porcelain relics.

Three methods were used to repair these 20 porcelain pieces. White plaster was used to match and repair the damaged parts, which were then decorated with gold, namely, use white plaster to patch up the damaged porcelain and then top it with a layer of gold lacquer. If the restorer can recover the original design, then he or she should draw the design on the damaged part in accordance with the existing part of the porcelain, in order to form a complete design.

The foundation held an expert examination committee meeting for the first batch of 20 repaired Old Summer Palace cultural relics, inviting experts to discuss and critique the repair standards of the repaired relics from the Old Summer Palace based on the three methods used.

Experts expressed concerns about defects in the restoration process

Most of experts who attended the meeting yesterday believe that the original quality of the 20 repaired cultural relics is poor and none are perfect. At the same time, there are problems with the ones that were repaired regarding the use of gold lacquer and plaster, as well as artificially filling in the designs.

According to the experts, the main purpose of repairing cultural relics is for conservation and exhibition. Reality is the goal to strive for. Take artificially filling in the designs as an example, it is unscientific to draw out the lost part according to the part of the design that remains and speculate on the design without any pictures or text data. Meanwhile, most of the porcelain restoration is currently using the white plaster to match and repair.

The porcelain renovation will use white plaster to match and repair

Experts have come to an agreement after a heated discussion, namely that the repairs to the Old Summer Palace’s porcelain should adopt the traditional Chinese restoration method--using white plaster to match and repair the damaged parts. The practices of using gold lacquer or filling in the designs are undesirable. Experts do not support restoring the damaged parts of the cultural relics without the original basis to use as reference. In addition, those applying the gold lacquer should also be careful in their work.

In regards to these suggestions, the foundation said that they will adopt the suggestions in the process of repairing the Old Summer Palace’s porcelain, and mainly use white plaster to repair the damaged porcelain. They will stop using gold lacquer, and never subjectively fill in pictures or designs unless they have sufficient reasons and find relevant records.

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