Scientific Examination for the Investigation and Conservation of Far East Asian Mural Paintings
Compared to western wall paintings, the study, conservation and restoration of Far East Asian wall paintings is a more difficult task, owing not only to the varied supports and painting material constituents they are made of, but also to the particular social environments in which they are located and the consequences this has on the adopted theoretical and practical approaches to conservation. The recent availability of complementary non-invasive and micro-invasive analytical techniques led conservation scientists to have an increased interest in studying painting materials and techniques used in Far East Asian mural paintings. This chapter aims at presenting and discussing some of the most intriguing issues that conservation professionals are still confronted with. To this purpose, the chapter first introduces readers to the understanding of their material constitution and ancient painting techniques adopted with specific reference to plaster, preparation, paint layers and binding media and varnishes. Afterwards, the most advanced analytical approaches suitable for the achievement of a clear understanding of original schemes of polychromy, painting materials and technique are presented and discussed. This is of the outmost importance as the main issue when talking about Far East Asian mural painting conservation is the imminent risk of loss or damage.