Materials and techniques: Early Buddhist wall paintings and sculptures at Sumda Chun, Ladakh

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Gill, Maninder Singh; Rendo, Carolina Priego; Menon, Sreekumar;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 59, Number 5, p.300-313 (2014)


An assemblage of Buddhist wall paintings and sculptures dating to the twelfth/early thirteenth century are found distributed over the interiors of the temple complex at Sumda Chun, Ladakh. Detailed investigations carried out as part of a conservation project shed light on their antiquity and production technology. The sculptures are constructed with fine mud mortar applied over a wooden armature and affixed to the walls without any support from the ground. In both the sculptures and wall paintings, the paint layer is applied over a thin gypsum ground that functions as a white colourant where unpainted. For the paint layer, azurite, vermilion, and orpiment are the dominant mineral pigments utilized. Minium (red lead) has been used for preparatory drawings and as paint. Highlighting of special areas was achieved using a laminate of tin–lead alloy and gold on relief. Overall the material and techniques employed in the execution of the wall paintings and sculptures are consistent with those reported for other early sites in the region.