Asian nations join forces to repair mural

UPI, May 8, 2006

NARA, Japan -- Japan, South Korea and Taiwan plan to jointly restore a 270-year-old Buddhist mural at one of South Korea's three major temples, starting in June.

It will be the first time the Asian neighbors have worked together on a full-scale cultural heritage repair, the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported Monday.

The 25 members of the combined team, led by Akira Yamauchi of Japan's Gangoji Institute for Research of Cultural Property, will repair the mural at Tongdo Temple in the city of Yangsan in South Gyeongsang province.

The 13-by-7.5 feet mural -- the only work of its type in South Korea -- depicts the world of the Lotus Sutra, complete with images of the Buddha, bodhisattvas and a pagoda.

Yamauchi, who is in charge of cultural heritage restoration at the Gangoji Institute, proposed the restoration of the mural two years ago after he discovered the color was damaged and the 4-inch-thick clay on which it was painted was cracking and flaking.

The team will reinforce the clay to prevent parts of the mural from breaking off. The specialists also will examine the pigments and design of the picture, among other restoration-related work.