Restored works should not cover over history at palace

13:32, July 16, 2010      

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Visitors to Yuanmingyuan Park can take a close look at how the relics are repaired. (Source: China Daily/An Xudong) Repair work done to damaged porcelain at Yuanmingyuan Park should not tarnish their historical appeal, scholars said, after the park started exhibiting 20 repaired items last month.

"Protecting cultural relics does not mean dressing them up and there should be no push to make them appear flawless either," said Wang Danhua, an expert at the China State Administration of Cultural Heritage.

The park, also known as the Old Summer Palace, has been exhibiting 20 repaired items since June 18, including plates, vases and bowls of various sizes, which were restored from around 30,000 pieces unearthed at the park in recent years. Three methods have been adopted for the restoration of the items, according to Yu Yang, one of the chief experts from China Cultural Relics Protection Foundation (CCRPF), which is in charge of the project.

"The first approach is to use white gypsum to replace the missing parts. Secondly, we use gypsum to replace the missing parts and highlighting those sections in gold. Finally, we restore the details on the white gypsum parts according to the paintings on the remaining segments," he explained.

The scholars were adamant the restoration work should make the porcelain look like they hadn't been damaged.

"Since the painting skills of craftsmen in the past were far superior to today's staff, any attempt to make restored works appear untouched is just lame," said Qin Dashu, a professor from Peking University.

The advice comes as 10 more porcelain items were waiting to be restored. The restoration team, consisting of four experts from CCRPF and around 100 volunteers that major in archeology and related subjects, said it would consider the experts suggestions, according to Yu.

In addition to porcelain, jade and Buddhist statues, as well as stone sculptures, are expected to become the subject of repair work before October. The restoration team will also build a data center to collect the digitalized information of these relics.

Yuanmingyuan, located at the northwest of the city's downtown area, is a major Beijing tourist attraction for visitors from all around the world.

However, park officials often hear tourists complaining that the location lacks a sense of history, despite the fact that most of the park's relics and buildings were robbed and burned almost 150 years ago by the armies of Britain and France, according to Ye Liangqing, deputy director of the managing office of Yuanmingyuan.

The ongoing repair work, which is conducted in the repair room near the park's south gate, is also a place of interest for tourists to the park.

"Visitors can look through a large window and see how experts are selecting cracked pieces, cleaning them and matching them up," Ye said.

Source: China Daily


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