Polychromy and gilding in the Gandharan sculptures from Pakistan and Afghanistan: samplings from Museum Guimet in Paris, Civic Archaeological Museum of Milan and Museum of Oriental Art of Turin

Simona Pannuzi, MIBAC, Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro

Fabio Talarico, MIBAC, Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro

Giuseppe Guida, MIBAC, Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro

Carlo Rosa, Sigea Lazio, Istituto Italiano di Paleontologia Umana

This paper will discuss the scientific results of a recent sampling of the polychrome and gilded stone, stucco and claysculptures of Gandharan art not yet published. Four years ago, we had the opportunity to begin an articulated research project focused on the Gandharan polychrome stone and stucco sculptures, in collaboration with the Museum of Oriental Art “Giuseppe Tucci” of Rome (ex MNAO, now merged into the Museo delle Civ-iltà) and the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan (MAI), now led by Luca M. Olivieri. In the last two years, thanks to a very limited grant offered by the Italian Government to the Istituto Superiore per la Conservazione ed il Restauro (ISCR), we had the opportunity to develop this research. Our study aimed to clarify some issues, already highlighted in the preliminary esearch. We had the chance to cooperate with several European Museums of Oriental Art: the Museum Guimet in Paris, the Civic Archaeological Museum of Milan (Oriental Art Collection) and the Museum of Oriental Art of Turin (MAO).

This new research allowed to investigate on some important artefacts dis-played in these Museums: the Archaeological Museum of Milan has an interesting collection acquired on antique market and the Museum of Oriental Art of Turin exhibits a part of the artefacts discovered during the excavations by Domenico Faccenna, chief of the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan from the Fifties to the Nineties. Moreover, we had the opportunity to take some samples from the famous statues with polychromy and gilding from the Gandharan sites in Pakisthan and Afghanistan preserved in Museum Guimet in Paris.Thanks to this funding, we kept cooperating with the Italian Archaeological Mission in Pakistan and we increased the number of samples of different materials, including a series of plaster samples, some of which with polychromy, found in the recent archaeological excavations of the Italian Mission (2014–15).

Recently, we have also begun to cooperate with Italian Archaeological Mis-sion in Afghanistan, led by Anna Filigenzi, and we had the possibility to analyze some samples from Tapa Sardar, near Gazhni, and Tepe Narenj, near Kabul, two important Buddhist sites of the Gandharan culture.In the frame of these studies, it has been fundamental to cooperate for the scientific investigations, especially about the binders, with Ilaria Bonaduce and Anna Lluveras Tenorio of Chemical Department team of Pisa University, led by M. Perla Colombini.The first phase of our study (2014–2015) was focused on technological and conservative issues, concerning, in particular, the polychrome stone sculptures of the Rome Museum collection (ex MNAO). Only a few petrographic studies were carried in the past on the Gandharan stone and stuc-co sculptures and on the composition of the stucco; the polychromy and the gilding layers on these artworks were not analysed. In the past geological studies on Gandharan metamorphic schists were scarcely supported by specialized geological mappings.

Lithological-petrographic studies were carried out in order to find out if the use of different stones was owed to the proximity of the caves or to political-economic reasons, that changed according to different periods, as in the site of Taxila in Pakistan5; but simply, the use of different stones could be depend-ed on the different types and employment of the artefacts. In our first research, carried out in ISCR in cooperation with Roma 3 University on the samples taken from Rome Museum (ex MNAO), information on the lithotypes on record was considered in the perspective of the local outcrops and the general archaeological and cultural contexts6. Petrographic and mineralogical analyses of the samples [carried out with Scanning Electronic Microscope/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Analysis (SEM-EDS) and with X-rays diffraction (XRD)] verified that the main lithotype of Swat is not a schist, as previously stated, but serpentinite.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.13128/RA-25128

Read Full Text: https://oaj.fupress.net/index.php/ra/article/view/7353

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