JAIC 2001, Volume 40, Number 1, Article 1 (pp. 01 to 14)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 2001, Volume 40, Number 1, Article 1 (pp. 01 to 14)

CONSERVATION OF CHINESE SHADOW FIGURES: INVESTIGATIONS INTO THEIR MANUFACTURE, STORAGE, AND TREATMENT

LISA KRONTHAL


ABSTRACT—Chinese shadow figures of the Beijing, East City, type were cut from translucent skin, painted with dyes, and coated with tung oil. The history of the American Museum of Natural History's collection of Chinese shadow figures and details concerning the materials and techniques used in their manufacture are described in this article. Also covered is the shadow theater's relationship to Chinese opera in symbolism, color, and form. The tung oil coating in this collection, as in most, has remained tacky, resulting in extensive damage due to adhesion of elements to themselves and to storage materials. Other common damage includes tears and distortions of the skin and detached elements. A survey of the collection is given, and research into appropriate materials and techniques for new storage and treatment is described, as well as investigations into silicone-coated Mylar as a long-term storage material. For tear repairs, a range of intestinal lining materials including goldbeater's skin, reconstituted collagen, and natural skin condoms, in combination with adhesives including gelatin, Beva 371, Paraloid F-10, and polyvinyl acetate resins, is presented.
[Spanish Abstract] [French Abstract]

Article Sections:

1. INTRODUCTION
2. THE ORIGIN OF THE AMNH SHADOW PUPPET COLLECTION
3. TECHNOLOGY: MATERIALS AND MANUFACTURE
4. REHOUSING AND SILICONE MYLAR
5. TREATMENT
6. CONCLUSION
a: Notes , Materials , References , Author Information
Entire Article

Copyright 2001 American Institution for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works