Fusing and refreshing the memory: Conserving a Chinese lacquered Buddha sculpture in London

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Hsin-Hui Hsu; Dean Sully;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 61, Number sup3, p.124-130 (2016)


This paper examines the conservation treatment of a lacquered Buddha sculpture undertaken by a Buddhist conservator as part of a postgraduate heritage conservation training programme in London. This creative process selects from a mixture of ideas and practices as a specific response to the people, time, and place of the conservation treatment. Rather than seen as a polarized choice between versions of ‘Eastern’ and ‘Western’ approaches, the conservation practice is interpreted though a Buddhist understanding of the sculpture in relation to the secular requirements of the current owner. The treatment addressed issues of the physical stability of the object, the reversibility of applied treatments, and the accommodation of Buddhist concepts of ‘completeness’, ‘toplessness’, and ‘no killing’. The result was a Buddha sculpture made into a ‘plausible’ conservation object that represents the compromises necessary at the time and place of the conservation intervention.