Conserving Dragon in Clouds, a hanging scroll painting by Tani Bunchō

This was the largest hanging scroll to be mounted outside Japan. It was conserved in the Hirayama Studio at The British Museum. The scroll is landscape format (yoko-kakemono) and is 3 metres high and 1.98 metres wide, including the mount. All the materials used in the conservation and remounting of the painting are traditional Japanese papers and silks.

Traditionally, Japanese scroll mounts comprise four separate layers of different types of Japanese paper. The application of the third layer (nakaura) is shown here, and we can see the length of the joined sheet of misugami lining paper being set into position. The paper has been pasted using a very weak solution of aged paste (furunori), a ten-year-old aged starch adhesive. The aged paste is used because it is a soft adhesive and enables the scroll to roll and unroll more easily.

Once the pasted paper is set down, it is brushed into place with a smoothing brush (nadebake). This is followed by the use of the pounding brush (uchibake), which works in conjunction with the aged paste to mesh the fibres to the support papers below. On completion of conservation and remounting, the scroll can be put on display.

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