Analysis and Treatment of a Chinese Ceramic Mortuary Figure

tomb-figureAbstract: Chinese ceramic funerary figures are found in many museum and private collections. These figures are often discovered to be restored originals, forgeries or restored forgeries. The Buffalo Museum of Science owns a collection of these ceramic sculptures from ancient China, including the figure, Guard on Horseback (BMS CH296). Damage to this sculpture separated the body from the base exposing an earlier restoration. Access to the interior of the sculpture gave an opportunity to develop a greater understanding of its origin, its fabrication techniques, and its restoration.

Samples from the interior cavity of the sculpture were used for thermoluminescence authenticity dating and thin section analysis of the ceramic body. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) was used to help describe the layers on the surface of the sculpture. Previous restoration materials were characterized and identified through ultraviolet radiation, X-radiography, microchemical and solubility tests, microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy (XRF). The principal objective of this paper is to present the results of these examination and analytical techniques, their influence on treatment decisions and the consequent conservation treatment of this sculpture.

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