Friday, 18 August 2017

Tholing monastery in Tibet

Digitalized monastery fresco brings visitors closer to Tibetan culture

Digitalized monastery fresco brings visitors closer to Tibetan culture
Visitors view frescos in Tholing Monastery in Tibet via digital technology. [Photo/zjol.com]
Paintings on the wall of Tholing Monastery in Tibet have come to East China's Suzhou city via digital technology.
Featuring two giant buddhas, the high-precision digitalized images reproduce the original work in vivid detail.
"The images present the authentic features of the wall paintings, with a color rendition of over 95 percent accuracy," said Li Zhirong of Zhejiang University.
Situated in Zanda county, Ngari prefecture, Tibet autonomous region, Tholing Monastery was built in 996, with many of its murals dating back to the late 15th and early 16th century.
The paintings, showing elements of Tibetan Buddhism and local culture, have been damaged by weather, religious activities and tourists.
To protect the murals, experts at Zhejiang University and local cultural bureaus have spent six months archiving parts of the paintings.
With the digital images, visitors to an exhibition hall in East China's Jiangsu province can "see" the frescos outside Tibet for the first time.
"By setting up the archive, we can restore the paintings even if they suffer further damage in the future," said Li.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Great Wall of Siberia dating to '1st millennium BC'

Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia dating to '1st millennium BC'

15 August 2017
Giant ramparts guarded Altai Mountains against attack from the north, says leading archeologist Professor Andrey Borodovsky.
Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia. Picture: Andrey Borodovsky
The wall complex - now almost hidden to the naked eye - is believed to date from a long era that also saw such constructions as the Great Wall of China and Hadrian's Wall. 
Concealed under thick layers of turf are huge stones put in place by ancient man, says the scientist.
Six rows of a parallel wall system limited access to the Altai Mountain complex from the north via the valley of the Katun River. 
It is not known who built the giant ramparts.
Their width is a substantial ten metres with an impressive height of up to eight metres. 
'To the east of these walls is a fairly wide passage, which is limited at the mountainside by another series of walls, oriented west-east across the Katun valley,' he said.
There are nine walls adjacent to the mountain slope. 
Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia

Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia

Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia
Location of the Altai walls, and data from geophysical analysis. Pictures: Andrey Borodovsky

Professor Andrey Borodovsky said: 'These walls were clearly made to cut off crowds of people, and make them go through a narrow passage in the direction chosen by the creators of the (construction).'
In this way access from the steppes to the mountains - the home of ancient civilisations, for example of the Pazyryk people - could be controlled. 
Some of the walls were destroyed by the construction of the Chuya highway in tsarist times, modernised by Stalin using prisoner labour.  
The western section of the ramparts were substantially lost when the modern-day village Souzga was widened.
'It is not easy to photograph the walls so that they are visible,' Andrey Borodovsky said. Nor do satellite images help much. 
Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia

Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia

Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia
Siberian scientists study the Altai walls, concealed under thick layers of turf. Pictures: Andrey Borodovsky

Yet Prof Borodovsky insists geophysical analysis using scans shows the structures here were manmade not natural. 
He has announced plans to conduct detailed research here next year which - while not long in total length, with more than 1 kilometre identified - are high in historical significance. 
So far archeological evidence of man from the areas around the walls points to a medieval presence yet the researcher from the 
Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography in Novosibirsk is convinced proof will be found of their construction much earlier.
'Geophysics has clearly confirmed that the Souzga walls were artificially created,' he told The Siberian Times. 
'It is not very easy to determine the age of such constructions, when exactly were they created, but I believe it was around the first millennium BC - the beginning of new era. 
'That is Iron Age or even Bronze Age, but more likely - Iron Age.
'I'm basing this on the fact that it was the time when such constructions are created all over the world, for example the famous Hadrian's Wall also fits into this trend. The problem is that the only archeological finds around these walls, as of now, are dated as medieval.
'But I still believe that in Middle Ages there was not a big enough community here which could afford to build such a formidable construction. 
'Besides, there also was no need for such a construction because in Middle Ages there were a lot of small, scattered communities here.'
Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia

Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia
Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia

Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia

Discovered: the Great Wall of Siberia
Views around Souzga village; the Great Wall of China and Hadrian Wall. Pictures: The Siberian Times

Andrey Borodovsky said: 'All the impressive defensive lines in Eurasia were built in the period from the beginning of the first millennium BC up to the opening half of the first millennium AD. 
'This is the era of late Bronze Age and early Iron Age, including the Hunnish time on the eve of the Great Migration of Nations. 
'Such a fortification process was due to a number of factors. 
'First, the appearance of significant human resources in this era, thanks to the potential of an integrated manufacturing economy. 
'Secondly, the aggravation of military conflicts and a significant increase in their scale. 
'Thirdly, the formation of large state and proto-state entities, which had economic, cultural and political boundaries and these boundaries ... to separate their world from aliens. 
'We remember the Great Wall of China, which was formed over several centuries and basically built by the third century BC, and Hadrian's Wall in Britain, at the decline of the late Roman Empire. 
'In the same series of mammoth defensive structures is the Serpent's Wall [an ancient system of earthen fortifications stretch across Ukraine, from the town of Zmiiv in the east to Podolia in the west], the beginning of the erection of which dates back to the late Bronze Age.'

New Smithsonian's Sackler Exhibition: Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia

a perfect harmony concept

Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery Explores Rich Buddhist Heritage of Asia


“ENCOUNTERING THE BUDDHA: ART AND PRACTICE ACROSS ASIA” TO GO ON VIEW OCT. 14



Media only:
Erick Hoffman 202-633-0447 or 202-412-3916; hoffmane@si.edu
Megan Krefting 202-633-0271; kreftingm@si.edu


Media website:


July 27, 2017
Buddhism is practiced by millions around the globe and holds a rich and diverse history spanning more than 2,500 years. “Encountering the Buddha: Art and Practice across Asia,” opening Oct. 14 at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, reveals how art and place are central to Buddhist understanding and teachings. The Freer Gallery of Art and Sackler gratefully acknowledge The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation as the exhibition’s lead sponsor.
“Encountering the Buddha,” on view through October 2020, draws upon the Freer and Sackler collections of Buddhist art from India to Indonesia and Afghanistan to Japan. With more than 250 objects, two immersive environments and integrated digital platforms, the exhibition shares the stories of Buddhist objects and artworks, describing the beings that they represent and the people who engaged with them, their ritual use, their sacred power and their remarkable beauty.
“By juxtaposing sculptures, fascinating objects and sacred sites, we show how Buddhist visual culture conveys profound and often universal concepts, such as compassion or the urge to move beyond suffering,” said Debra Diamond, the Freer|Sackler’s curator of South and Southeast Asian Art.  
Buddhism is founded on the teachings of the Historical Buddha, also known as Shakyamuni. Born a prince in the fifth century B.C., the Buddha rejected a royal life to instead become a holy man. Through meditation, he came to the realization that attachment to impermanent things causes human suffering. The Buddha taught others throughout northern India how to overcome suffering, and after his death, the Buddha’s teachings spread across Central, East and Southeast Asia.
The exhibition examines Buddhism through a wide lens, touching upon the religion’s diverse expressions by considering objects that span the Buddhist world and Buddhist traditions. Two experiential spaces, one centered on a public site, the other evoking a domestic shrine, present specific examples of the interplay of place and practice.
The first immersive space features a three-channel digital film titled The Texture of Practice: Sri Lanka’s Great Stupa. Projected onto three large screens, this meditative installation invites visitors to experience a living Buddhist site in Sri Lanka. Tradition holds that the site, the Ruwanwelisaya stupa, was created in the third century B.C. to enshrine relics of the Historical Buddha; it remains the locus of vibrant activity today. Created exclusively for this exhibition, the film installation conveys the stupa’s enduring potency through the daily practices of monks, nuns and laypeople during the December full-moon festival. 
The second immersive installation is the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room. Last shown in 2010 at the Sackler, this newly-expanded iteration of the shrine from the Alice S. Kandell Collection has 243 objects, including some 20 objects that have never before been publicly exhibited. The objects were created by Tibetan, Chinese, Nepalese and Mongolian artists from the 13th to the 19th century, and the shrine is an assemblage rare in both size and quality. The objects are arranged as they would be within the grand domestic shrine of a Tibetan Buddhist noble family. Sculptures and ritual objects are placed atop polychrome Tibetan furniture and in front of brocade-bordered thangkas (scroll paintings). Lit by flickering lamps, the objects are arranged according to traditional hierarchies, with ritual implements on lower levels and Buddha images in higher positions. Containing no labels or cases, the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room invites visitors to have the sort of unmediated experience that is typically not available in art museums, where objects are isolated within cases and surrounded by interpretation.  
Throughout the exhibition, digital tablets invite visitors to choose their own paths for further learning. A tablet located outside the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room allows visitors to discover more about the objects displayed inside and learn about the various shrine spaces of the Tibetan Buddhist world. On another tablet, developed in partnership with an undergraduate design team from University of Michigan, visitors can follow the eighth-century pilgrimage of Hyecho, a young Korean monk who set out for the Buddhist holy land of India, traveling as far as Persia before following the Silk Road back to China. Elsewhere in the exhibition, tablets permit visitors to explore the rituals taking place at a Sri Lankan stupa and learn the answers to commonly asked questions about the exhibition’s artworks, which range from “Why is this Buddha’s hair blue?” to “How did this Buddha get to the museum?”
Concurrent with the exhibition are a number of related publications and digital products. The museum is producing Paths to Perfection, the first guidebook dedicated to the Buddhist treasures in the Freer|Sackler’s world-renowned permanent collection. Twenty-four artworks from the Freer|Sackler collection are also featured in a new book, Hyecho’s Journey: The World of Buddhism (University of Chicago Press), which offers a general picture of the Buddhist tradition by imagining the Buddhist world experienced by the young monk Hyecho. Additional apps are: a new Freer|Sackler audio app, featuring Donald Lopez, that provides in-depth perspectives on Buddhist works on display in the Freer and Sackler galleries; the app for the Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room, which has been designed for those who want to experience the museum’s shrine installation at home, and is also a repository of information and images exploring various types of Tibetan Buddhist sacred spaces, as well as the objects and activities therein; and a mobile app, produced by a team of University of Michigan undergraduates, which will offer an enhanced audio tour that takes guests on a pilgrimage through the Freer and Sackler, guiding them to multiple stops at Buddhist objects along Hyecho’s journey.
This project received federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Additional funding was provided by the Ellen Bayard Weedon Foundation. The Freer|Sackler acknowledges the University of Michigan Humanities Collaboratory and the Multidisciplinary Design Program; the Hyecho tablet, mobile app and book are the latest in a century of collaborations between the University of Michigan and the Freer|Sackler, which have been inspired by the generosity of a mutual benefactor, Charles Lang Freer.
The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation is a private philanthropic organization based in Hong Kong, whose mission is to foster appreciation of Chinese arts and culture and cultivate deeper understanding of Buddhism in the context of contemporary life.

ABOUT THE FREER AND SACKLER GALLERIES

The Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art and the adjacent Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., together comprise the nation’s museums of Asian art. It contains one of the most important collections of Asian art in the world, featuring more than 40,000 objects ranging in time from the Neolithic to the present day, with especially fine groupings of Islamic art, Chinese jades, bronzes and paintings and the art of the ancient Near East. The galleries also contain important masterworks from Japan, ancient Egypt, South and Southeast Asia and Korea, as well as the Freer’s noted collection of works by American artist James McNeill Whistler. 
The Freer|Sackler is a part of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, which is dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge. 

Sunday, 13 August 2017

From the British Museum: Conserving a Tang Dynasty Embroidery

Conserving Vulture Peak | Episode 6: Backing fabric


This week conservators Hannah and Monique choose and prepare the new backing fabric for the Vulture Peak embroidery. 


Conserving Vulture Peak | Episode 7: Removing the old restoration


In this week's episode, Hannah and Monique remove the old restoration fabric from the back of the embroidery. In doing so they're revealing the back of the embroidery. 





If you missed the previous 5 video's you will find them below

Follow live British Museum Conservation 8th Century embroidery from Dunhuang cave 17

 

Banner with Sakayamuni, Tang dynastie,found by Aurel Stein (1862- 1943) in cave 17 in the Mogao caves in Dunhuang


Conserving Vulture Peak | Episode 1: Introduction


Join textile conservators Monique Pullan and Hannah Vickers as they embark on this intricate conservation journey over the course of 11 weeks.



Conserving Vulture Peak | Episode 2: Curatorial introduction


This week we join Jane Portal, Keeper of the Department of Asia at the British Museum, as she explains the history and rediscovery of the Vulture Peak embroidery – one of the most magnificent of all the compositions found in the hidden library at Dunhuang.
This embroidery dates from China’s Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). It depicts the Buddha preaching at Vulture Peak – in Buddhist tradition a favourite retreat of the Buddha and his disciples, located in what is now north-east India. 
It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943) who, while exploring the many caves at Dunhuang, discovered a walled up cave. Behind this wall was a library full of manuscripts paintings and textiles, including this astonishing embroidery.
Watch the rest of the ‘Conserving Vulture Peak’ series here: https://goo.gl/FXoBK2
The tapestry is part of a collection donated to the British Museum by the archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943).



Conserving Vulture Peak | Episode 3: Conservation assessment


This week Hanna and Monique discuss the specific areas that need to be addressed to conserve this delicate embroidery. 



Conserving Vulture Peak | Ep4: Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry


Scientist, Dr Diego Tamburini analyses the dyes used to colour the fibres of the Vulture Peak embroidery. 

He uses a technique known as Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry to find out what was used to colour the embroidery threads. 


Episode 5: Surface cleaning




In this week's episode, Hannah starts the painstaking task of dry cleaning the embroidery to remove any particulate soiling from the object.

The embroidery dates from China’s Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). It depicts the Buddha preaching at Vulture Peak – in Buddhist tradition a favourite retreat of the Buddha and his disciples, located in what is now north-east India. 

It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943) who, while exploring the many caves at Dunhuang, discovered a walled up cave. Behind this wall was a library full of manuscripts paintings and textiles, including this astonishing embroidery.

Watch the rest of the ‘Conserving Vulture Peak’ series here: https://goo.gl/FXoBK2

The tapestry is part of a collection donated to the British Museum by the archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943).

You can find more information in the collection online https://goo.gl/7B4W81

to be continued......


In the mean time, also pay a visit to the website of the International Dunhuang Project/ IDP


Bronze Age warrior, ready for combat found in Omsk

Ancient warrior unearthed marching to afterlife with his dagger drawn, wearing stylish earrings

05 August 2017
Fighter from almost 3,000 year ago was ready to impale his enemies, expecting battles after death, with a 'mirror' on his eye.
Not all the treasures in his grave appeared ready for battle - the warrior also had some fetching white metal spiral earrings, made possibly from tin or silver. Picture: Channel12
The extraordinary find of this Bronze Age warrior - ready for combat on his journey to the next life between 2,700 and 2,900 years ago - is intriguing archeologists in Omsk city.
Unusual features are the dagger ready for use in one hand, a knife in the other, and a metallic eye patch, or badge, seen as either a mirror illuminating his route to another world, or those who gave him evil glances. 
Nearby he had an axe and also some arrow heads.
Not all the treasures in his grave appeared ready for battle - the warrior also had some fetching white metal spiral earrings, made possibly from tin or silver.
Ancient warrior unearthed marching to afterlife with his dagger drawn, wearing stylish earrings 

Ancient warrior unearthed marching to afterlife with his dagger drawn, wearing stylish earrings 

Ancient warrior unearthed marching to afterlife with his dagger drawn, wearing stylish earrings 
The extraordinary find of this Bronze Age warrior - ready for combat on his journey to the next life between 2,700 and 2,900 years ago - is intriguing archeologists in Omsk city. Pictures: NGS Novosti, Channel12

The remains were found during the restoration of an historical building under Muzeinaya Street in Omsk.
The well-preserved skeleton with his arms crossed lay in the trench of a heating pipe made in the Soviet era, according to the regional government's website.
Albert Polovodov, a specialist from the regional culture ministry, said: 'In the right hand he held a dagger, the blade pointing forwards or upwards, as if he was going to use it as a stabbing weapon.
'In other hand was a knife, blade down, as he was going to cut, dissect, cut ligaments and so on. Clearly, it is imitation of combat use of these weapon.'
It was as if he 'was very carefully prepared for the road to another world, assuming that obstacles may exist in his way',
It indicated that perhaps during his life 'he had to fight - perhaps in battles for territories'.
Ancient warrior unearthed marching to afterlife with his dagger drawn, wearing stylish earrings 

Ancient warrior unearthed marching to afterlife with his dagger drawn, wearing stylish earrings 

Ancient warrior unearthed marching to afterlife with his dagger drawn, wearing stylish earrings 

Ancient warrior unearthed marching to afterlife with his dagger drawn, wearing stylish earrings 

Ancient warrior unearthed marching to afterlife with his dagger drawn, wearing stylish earrings 
Fighter from almost 3,000 year ago was ready to impale his enemies, expecting battles after death, with a 'mirror' on his eye. Pictures: NGS Novosti, Channel12

Maxim Grachev, director of Omsk Museum of Archeology and Ethnography, said five burials had been found, but the four others were destroyed. 
'The ideal state of the grave was a pleasant surprise for us,' he said. 
'We found a large number of well-preserved items: weapons, jewellery, and other items made of bronze.'
The warrior hailed from the transition period from the Bronze to the Iron age.  
Other burial remains are likely to lie under the buildings on this site, but are not accessible, he said. 

Friday, 4 August 2017

Learn more about the Zeleniy Yar burial site, meet a woman of the 12th Century

Meet the mummified Polar beauty, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

04 August 2017
Unearthed on the edge of the Arctic, she is the only woman so far found in an otherwise all-male necropolis, buried in a cocoon of copper and fur.
She has long eyelashes, a full head of hair - and impressive teeth. Picture: Irina Sharova
This haunting 12th century woman is a member of an unknown hunting and fishing civilisation that held sway in the far north of Siberia - with surprising links to Persia.
Accidentlally mummified and probably aged around 35, her delicate features are visible, the green tinge on her face being the traces of the pieces of a copper kettle that helped preserve her in her permafrost grave. 
She has long eyelashes, a full head of hair - and impressive teeth.
Bronze temple rings were found close to her skull, wrapped inside animal skin - possibly reindeer  - and birch bark that cocooned her. 
Like other human remains, the medieval mummy's feet were turned towards  nearby  Gorny Poluy River, a fact seen as having religious significance.
She was around 155 centimetres tall - 5ft 1 inch.
Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years
A raft of tests - including DNA - will be carried out by the joint team of Russian and South Korean scientists. Pictures: Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS

A baby - almost certainly a girl and too young to have teeth - also unearthed during this summer's dig at Zeleny Yar archaeological site near Salekhard is not believed to be related to the woman, the rest of whose body is not well preserved. 
Archaeologist Alexander Gusev, from Russia's Arctic Research Centre, confirmed that the copper-clad mummy was the first find of an adult woman in this ancient burial site.
'There are some badly preserved bones, which do not allow us to determine the gender, but he we clearly see from the face that she was a woman,' he said. 
'This radically changes our concept about this graveyard. 
'Previously we thought that there were only adult men and children, but now we have a woman.
'It's amazing.'
Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years
'Previously we thought that there were only adult men and children, but now we have a woman - it's amazing.' Pictures: Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS

The people to which this woman belonged survived by hunting and fishing on the edge of the Arctic Circle - but among three dozen adult graves previously investigated, all contained male remains, some with their skulls smashed, possibly suggesting this woman was socially important. 
Or more women could be found in future, Sergey Slepchenko said. 
A raft of tests - including DNA - will be carried out by the joint team of Russian and South Korean scientists investigating these archeological remains. 
Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years
She was around 155 centimetres tall - 5ft 1 inch. Picture: Institute of the Problems of Northern Development SB RAS

Dr Sergey Slepchenko, a researcher at the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Novosibirsk, said the head preserved well because it was 'wrapped' in pieces of copper kettle. 
'The woman and the baby are from different graves, so we cannot say they are related,' he said. 'Definitely not a mother and child.'
Analysis is likely to take a year - and will depend on government funding for analysis seen by the academics as crucial to understanding the human presence in the Arctic. 
He hopes to reconstruct the face of the woman. 
Dr Slepchenko said: 'During the natural conservation of the mummy in the soil, the rotting process was completed.
'The remaining soft tissues were soaked with copper solution from those ritual plates with which the bodies were covered.' 
Brain samples have been taken from the woman for paleo-DNA analysis
Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years
'Arctic mummies, similar to those found in the Zeleny Yar, are very rare.' Pictures: Institute of the problems of Northern Development SB RAS

Prof Dong-Hoon Shin, from Seoul National University, said: 'In the world there are two types of mummies - artificial and natural. 
'Excellent examples of mummies of artificial origin are Egyptian. 
'The natural mummification of bodies of the buried is usually observed when certain conditions of the environment - permafrost, the presence of copper objects in the burial - and climate. 
'They are found in deserts and in the north. 
'Arctic mummies, similar to those found in the Zeleny Yar, are very rare. That is why they are unique.' 
He said: 'Due to the high level of preservation the mummies internal organs are intact, too, which is incredibly interesting for our research.' 
Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years

Meet the mummified Polar Princess, her long eyelashes and hair still intact after 900 years
The mummy on way from the burial site to laboratory. Pictures: Irina Sharova

Previous finds at the Zeleniy Yar burial site near Salekhard have included bronze bowls originating in ancient Persia, around 6,000 kilometres to the south-west.
One earlier find was a 'red-haired man' buried with a bronze buckle depicting a brown bear. 

The Chinese Silk Road, documentary by Graeme Langford






The Chinese Silk Road - Episode 1 - The Journey Begins


The first of three episodes in The Chinese Silk Road documentary series! In this episode, we explore the root of Islam in China in the ancient capital of Xian, before moving into the mountains to discover the incredible Maijishan cave grottoes. We then move on to Lanzhou to try a steaming bowl of the famous hand pulled noodles, before heading to the western end of the Great Wall of China at Jiayuguan.




The Chinese Silk Road - Episode 2 - Into the Desert


The second of three episodes in The Chinese Silk Road documentary series! In this episode, we head into the Gobi desert, and discover the enchanting and legendary crescent spring oasis. A cramped journey on the night train then takes us to the city of Urumqi, where we get under the skin of local music and explore the incredible Xinjiang bazaar.



The Chinese Silk Road - Episode 3 - The End of the Road


The final episode in The Chinese Silk Road series! In this episode we head to the city of Kashgar, on the border of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. We experience the hustle and bustle of the Kashgar cattle market, before heading into the ancient centre of the city itself to discover more about famous local crafts.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Ancient Nomads of Mangystau (now in Kazachstan)



Where today only rubble, bare rocks and dust can be found, there once lived its own culture – the culture of Mangystau. Located in the south-west of Kazakhstan and along the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea, nomads had set up their tents and settled down in late-antiquity. At the time, other climatic conditions prevailed in this region. From geological surveys and historical sources, it is knows that the country was fertile, had water flow and was visited by merchant karawan. A Russian archeology researcher, Dr. Evgeniy Bogdanov, is currently looking for remnants of this lost culture.

Documentary film of 6 parts.
Project Manager: Eugene Bogdanov
With the support of the Gerda Henkel Foundation, Düsseldorf, Germany
2017



For more information visit the site of the Gerda Henkel Foundation

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

From the British Museum: Conserving Vulture Peak | Episode 5: Surface cleaning




In this week's episode, Hannah starts the painstaking task of dry cleaning the embroidery to remove any particulate soiling from the object.

The embroidery dates from China’s Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). It depicts the Buddha preaching at Vulture Peak – in Buddhist tradition a favourite retreat of the Buddha and his disciples, located in what is now north-east India. 

It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943) who, while exploring the many caves at Dunhuang, discovered a walled up cave. Behind this wall was a library full of manuscripts paintings and textiles, including this astonishing embroidery.

Watch the rest of the ‘Conserving Vulture Peak’ series here: https://goo.gl/FXoBK2

The tapestry is part of a collection donated to the British Museum by the archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943).

You can find more information in the collection online https://goo.gl/7B4W81









If you missed the previous 4 video's you will find them below

Follow live British Museum Conservation 8th Century embroidery from Dunhuang cave 17

 

Banner with Sakayamuni, Tang dynastie,found by Aurel Stein (1862- 1943) in cave 17 in the Mogao caves in Dunhuang


Conserving Vulture Peak | Episode 1: Introduction


Join textile conservators Monique Pullan and Hannah Vickers as they embark on this intricate conservation journey over the course of 11 weeks.



Conserving Vulture Peak | Episode 2: Curatorial introduction


This week we join Jane Portal, Keeper of the Department of Asia at the British Museum, as she explains the history and rediscovery of the Vulture Peak embroidery – one of the most magnificent of all the compositions found in the hidden library at Dunhuang.
This embroidery dates from China’s Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). It depicts the Buddha preaching at Vulture Peak – in Buddhist tradition a favourite retreat of the Buddha and his disciples, located in what is now north-east India. 
It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943) who, while exploring the many caves at Dunhuang, discovered a walled up cave. Behind this wall was a library full of manuscripts paintings and textiles, including this astonishing embroidery.
Watch the rest of the ‘Conserving Vulture Peak’ series here: https://goo.gl/FXoBK2
The tapestry is part of a collection donated to the British Museum by the archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943).



Conserving Vulture Peak | Episode 3: Conservation assessment


This week Hanna and Monique discuss the specific areas that need to be addressed to conserve this delicate embroidery. 



Conserving Vulture Peak | Ep4: Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry


Scientist, Dr Diego Tamburini analyses the dyes used to colour the fibres of the Vulture Peak embroidery. 

He uses a technique known as Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry to find out what was used to colour the embroidery threads. 


to be continued......


In the mean time, also pay a visit to the website of the International Dunhuang Project/ IDP