More than half of the historical relics in China are undergoing varying degrees of decomposition due to mishandling, reported Sichuan-based Huaxi Metropolis News.
Hundreds of valuable paintings by famed Chinese artist Zhang Daqian are experiencing tears, loss of colour, oxidation, and other degrees of wear that will continue to worsen unless the country steps up its methods of art preservation.
Contrary to popular belief in China, storing the paintings in safes where they won’t be stolen, burned, or turn damp is not enough to preserve them.
“In 50.66 per cent of historical relics there are varying degrees of decomposition, with some 2.3 million pieces of cultural treasures having been affected by severe decomposition, accounting for 16.5 per cent of the total,” Li Xiaojie, head of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage said on Monday.
Of the 200 or so Dunhuang frescoes by Zhang – a gifted forger and master of the splashed-ink painting style – the Sichuan Museum in Chengdu has in its collection, around 183 of them are slightly weathered, faded, have tears, or stuck together.
Wei Xuefeng, Vice President of the Sichuan Museum says that the deterioration is partially due to the delicate nature of the canvas fabric and poor quality of the paint.
But Wei Quan, a researcher of relic preservation thinks the problem is lack of facilities. The paintings are stored in low-moisture rooms to prevent corrosion, but the canvas is prone to drying, and temperatures in spring and summer increase the likelihood of an accidental fire. Wei suggests improving current conditions, constant monitoring of the paintings and using advanced technology before Zhang’s paintings worsen to the point of unsalvageable.