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Japanese Scroll Conservation Project

In 2010, the Library was delighted to receive a generous grant from The Sumitomo Foundation, Tokyo, to conserve one of the most important Japanese hand scrolls in the Library’s collections – an early 17th-century version of The tale of the Bamboo Cutter in a set of two picture scrolls.

The tale of the Bamboo Cutter is the oldest Japanese work of fiction in prose, written in the early Heian era (9th-10th century). It is well known in the history of Japanese literature for its significant influence on later works such as The Tale of Genji. The Chester Beatty Bamboo Cutter is believed to be the earliest extant example and is recognised as one of the finest of its kind.

The conservation of these magnificent scrolls was carried out by the Restorient Studio - specialists in traditional Japanese painting conservation in the Museum Volkenkunde, Leiden. It proved to be a challenging project for the team as over the past 400 years the scrolls had been previously restored and many areas were extremely thin. All the materials and techniques being applied are those traditionally used in Japan. It is possible to follow the progress of the two year project here.

This exciting conservation project was completed in April 2012 and the scrolls went on exhibition at the Library when they returned to Dublin.

We are very grateful to The Sumitomo Foundation for their generous support of this project.