The artistic tradition of modelling clay-based sculptures was commonly used in the decora¬tion of Buddhist architecture in Central Asia during antiquity. The birth of this type of sculp¬ture is traditionally associated with the ancient regions of Gandhara (in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent) and Bactria (between the north of the Hindu Kush mountain range and Amu Darya river) around the 1st century CE, and its use along the main routes of what is now known as the Silk Road continued for more than ten centuries. Numerous archaeological expedi¬tions since the 19th century have brought to light the remains of these sculptures, many of which today have disappeared or present ma¬jor conservation problems due to the difficulty in preserving them but also due to the lack of knowledge of an artistic technique that has never existed outside Asia. Today in Bengal, an ancient caste of artists continues to produce unfired clay-based sculptures, earthen idols that are commonly worshipped in the celebration of the various Hindu festivals, according to tradi¬tional techniques passed down from generation to generation. This article presents the first results of an eth¬nographic study that aims to document this traditional knowledge used by Bengali artisans to generate new hypotheses on how the ancient sculptures were made, as well as inspire new conservation and restoration strategies for the vestiges that are still preserved in an archaeo¬logical context.

An ethnographic approach to developing new conservation strategies for the archaeological clay-based sculpture of the Silk Road

Domenico Miriello;
2021

Abstract

The artistic tradition of modelling clay-based sculptures was commonly used in the decora¬tion of Buddhist architecture in Central Asia during antiquity. The birth of this type of sculp¬ture is traditionally associated with the ancient regions of Gandhara (in the northwest of the Indian subcontinent) and Bactria (between the north of the Hindu Kush mountain range and Amu Darya river) around the 1st century CE, and its use along the main routes of what is now known as the Silk Road continued for more than ten centuries. Numerous archaeological expedi¬tions since the 19th century have brought to light the remains of these sculptures, many of which today have disappeared or present ma¬jor conservation problems due to the difficulty in preserving them but also due to the lack of knowledge of an artistic technique that has never existed outside Asia. Today in Bengal, an ancient caste of artists continues to produce unfired clay-based sculptures, earthen idols that are commonly worshipped in the celebration of the various Hindu festivals, according to tradi¬tional techniques passed down from generation to generation. This article presents the first results of an eth¬nographic study that aims to document this traditional knowledge used by Bengali artisans to generate new hypotheses on how the ancient sculptures were made, as well as inspire new conservation and restoration strategies for the vestiges that are still preserved in an archaeo¬logical context.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11770/310232
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