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Marking World Heritage Day today we are focusing on the ancient Japanese art of picture conservation and mounting known as Hyōgu.

1923 woodblock print after the earliest known image of a hyōgushi priest and his assistant Original by the 14th century Japanese painter Fujiwara Takakane
Private collection Great Britain

Hyōgu and the hyōgushi

The art of restoring and mounting works of art on paper and silk has been practiced in the Far East for nearly two millennia. Originating first in China at the beginning of the Christian era, conservation techniques and materials then spread to Japan where they developed into the refined art that we now know as Hyōgu.

The word Hyōgu means a picture or piece of calligraphy lined with paper and mounted as a hanging scroll. The words hyōgushi, hyōguya and kyōji refer to the mounter/conservators of Japan who not only repair and mount hanging scrolls but also conserve other forms of pictorial art such as the handscroll, screens, sliding doors, murals etc.

The hyōgushi of today is required to undergo a long and strict period of training. During this time he or she learns not only the skills which will enable him to conserve scrolls, screens etc, but also the knowledge and sensitivity required to present them in their correct context. He must know the appropriate style of mount used for any subject and be aware, for example, of the meanings associated with the patterned silks used with such mounts. He or she must also know how and where an object will be used as this will often dictate the materials and techniques employed in its conservation.

Like the Western bookbinder, the hyōgushi is responsible for objects which must be both functional and aesthetically pleasing. The objects he is conserving are made to be opened and closed, rolled and unrolled and, apart from the demands of conservation and aesthetics, the hyōgushi must always bear in mind that they are to be constantly handled and not merely viewed.

A guest feature by Mohamed Badry and Mohamed Abdalla.

Ancient Memphis (Mit Rahina): Human-induced Impact Assessment, Heritage Impact Assessment was conducted by Mohamed Badry Kamel Basuny and his colleague Mohamed Abdallah under the supervision of their professor, Dr Michael Schmidt and his assistant Mr Mohamed Ravankhah. This short Introduction to their Assessment is a welcome guest feature on the subject. For the complete report please click on the link here.

Encroachment on Kom el-Rabi’ at Mit Rahina
©
Mohamed Badry (16 January 2014)

Introduction for our case study:

Although the site is included in the list of World Heritage Sites, Memphis and its Necropolis, UNESCO is actually only interested of the Giza plateau site and other neglected sites from Saqqara to Dahshur. ​Mit Rahina is considered an adequate archaeological site for implementing Heritage Impact Assessment methodology providing an example of the Human-induced Impact on such archaeological sites. ​

The researchers used archaeological and Egyptological-related libraries, internet sources etc, together with oral sources obtained when interviewing Mr Mohamed Fathy Mansour of the Mit Rahina Inspectorate, during a fieldtrip conducted on Thursday, 16 January 2014. The visit evaluated the ground cover and potential for buried archaeological materials, as well as recording any standing or obtrusive archaeological and historical features.

This research will assess the current situation of Mit Rahina, the open air museum and the surrounding archaeological components which have been affected by human-induced impacts. It will then provide Heritage Impact assessment procedures, describe the current or proposed changes, and then identify the threats to the site in order to analyze its potential impact. Consequently, it will then suggest some mitigating measures.

Salinization close to archaeological remains at the Hathor Temple, Mit Rahina
©
Mohamed Badry (16 Jananuary 2014)

Acknowledgements:

We are grateful to our professor Dr Michael Schmidt, Chair of Environmental Planning, BTU- Cottbus, Germany and his assistant Mr Mohamed Ravankhah, Research Assistant in the Department of Environmental Planning in Heritage Studies, for their guidance, encouragement and also, for their continuing support, and comments on the submitted paper. Moreover, we would like to thank Mr Mohamed Fathy Mansour, Mit Rahina Inspectorate, Mit Rahina Inspectorate register, who assisted us in doing direct on-site observations.

We are also grateful to the coordinators of both Helwan University (HU) in Cairo, Egypt and Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) in Cottbus-Senftenberg, Germany in selecteding us for this prestigious Joint Master Program Heritage Conservation and Site Management (HCSM).

The authors:

​Mohamed Badry graduated from the Faculty of Arts, History Department, Cairo University (2009) and continued his education by graduating from Guidance Diploma, Faculty of Tourism and Hotel Management, Helwan University (2011). He has a Master of Arts in Heritage Conservation and Heritage Site Management held jointly between two prestigious universities – Helwan University (Egypt) and BTU-Cottbus Senftenberg (Germany). His dissertation was in the field of heritage marketing under the title Developing Innovative Marketing Plan to Augment the Visitation of Egyptian World Heritage Sites: A Case Study of Saladin Citadel.

Mohamed Abdalla graduated from the Faculty of Tourism and Hotel Management, Guidance Department, Helwan University (2000). He has much experience in the tourism industry through his position as Aviation Manager. He has a Master of Arts in Heritage Conservation and Heritage Site Management jointly between two prestigious universities – Helwan University (Egypt) and BTU-Cottbus Senftenberg (Germany). His dissertation was in the field of heritage marketing under the title Branding World Heritage Sites: Case of Egypt.

 

Recreating the Tomb of Tutankhamun by Factum Arte

The BBC are airing a well researched and balanced story on the Tutankhamun facsimile and the questions this object has generated. The arrival of the facsimile of the Tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt in November as a gift from Factum Foundation to the country has created significant interest not just in the tomb itself but in the concept of authenticity and the potential for turning tourism into a positive force by creating exact facsimiles of subjects like the Tomb in order that the experience the tourist pays for is a powerful one but also that the original nearby is carefully preserved. The BBC introduction asks the question: “Egypt’s Valley of the Kings is a popular tourist attraction, but years of visitors trekking around the old tombs of the pharaohs is causing these historic sites to deteriorate. An exact replica of Tutankhamun’s tomb has now been created – but will tourists really visit …”

Factum Arte finished the facsimile of Tutankhamun’s Tomb at the end of 2010; it opens to the public today in Luxor, Egypt. Watch the extraordinary video above of Factum Arte’s creation of the facsimile and read an account of their work here. See also our earlier feature here.

 
A Roman period goldmine in the town of Roșia Montană, Romania. Source Wikimedia. Image credit Codrinb
 
Europa Nostra, a leading European heritage organisation, has expressed serious concern about a draft law which would allow a Canadian based company to set up Europe’s biggest open-cast goldmine in Roşia Montană, Romania –
 
In a letter addressed to Romanian parliamentarians, the civil society partner of the European Union, the Council of Europe and UNESCO, warned of the anticipated negative impact of the project on cultural heritage and the environment and called for an alternative and sustainable development plan for the region. Europa Nostra, together with the European Investment Bank Institute, listed Rosia Montana as one of ‘The 7 Most Endangered’ monuments and sites in Europe in June. The draft law proposed by the Romanian Government in August has sparked a wave of demonstrations across the country. The Romanian Parliament is expected to vote on it in November.
 
Europa Nostra has urged Romanian parliamentarians to start a genuine and thorough discussion on an alternative and sustainable solution for Roşia Montană. “Such a development plan would not only protect and promote the unique cultural and natural assets of the area (which include 150 km of pre-Roman and Roman galleries, archaeological artifacts and settlements witnessing an uninterrupted industrial life), but also bring long-term jobs to the region through the promotion of sustainable tourism, organic agriculture and other locally-based economic activities,” advocates John Sell, Executive Vice-President of Europa Nostra.
 
More here.

Video AlJazeera English

The Global Heritage Network reports that –

Currently among Cambodia’s top-listed sites for nomination to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, Banteay Chhmar (The Citadel of the Cats) is one of the great architectural masterpieces of Southeast Asia and the Khmer Kingdom’s epic Angkorian Period. Lacking any conservation over the past 800 years, the temple complex has slowly collapsed and disintegrated – its proud towers and awesome temples disappearing into the overgrowth. Coupled with threats from trees and the jungle, structural failure and looting, Banteay Chhmar is in critical need for conservation, master planning and increased protection. Local communities must be an integral part of the site’s protection and responsible development to ensure long-term success and proper management.

Full feature here.

 

 
Conservators at work in the Mogao Caves at Dunhuang, north-west China
 
Katie Hunt writing for CNN reports that –
 
The Mogao Grottoes complex in remote Gansu province in northwestern China may see visitor numbers limited next year as tourism takes its toll on the 1,000-year-old Buddhist frescos. The challenge for the local authorities in Kaiping, and at China’s other heritage sites, is how to manage tourists visits so that they bring maximum economic benefit without harming the heritage sites and those who live nearby.
 
One radical solution is to limit visitor numbers. For example, from next year the Mogao Grottoes in remote Northwestern China plans to allow 6,000 visitors per day, down from up to 11,000 at present, says Agnew at the Getty Conservation Institute.
 
More here.
 
 
 
Proposed St Kilda Centre on the Isle of Lewis
 
TravelMole reports yesterday that –
 

The proposed St Kilda Centre on the Isle of Lewis has been recognised as a “key case study” of global importance after UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee adopted a sustainable tourism strategy aimed at increasing local economic benefits from internationally-significant sites.

Meeting recently in St Petersburg, delegates from 150 countries backed a programme to co-ordinate and influence tourism developments at World Heritages sites, of which there are fewer than 1,000 world-wide. Most have little or no tourism infrastructure around them while others suffer the threat of over-exposure to commercial tourism.

The document states: “If undertaken responsibly, tourism can be a driver for preservation and conservation of cultural and natural heritage and a vehicle for sustainable development. “But if unplanned, or not properly managed, tourism can be socially, culturally and economically disruptive and have a devastating effect on fragile environments and local communities”.

St Kilda is one of five World Heritage sites in Scotland and one of only 29 in the world with a double designation, recognising both its outstanding natural and cultural history.

Full article here.

 

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