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3DVisA Index of 3D Projects: Art History and Conservation - Sculpture

Statue of Buddha, National Museums Liverpool, UK

Keywords: Japanese art, wooden sculpture, Buddha, 3D scanning, VRLM.

This project by Conservation Technologies, National Museums Liverpool, was concerned with recording and digital reconstruction of a 13th-century Japanese statue of Buddha in the World Museum Liverpool.

Fig. 1. Buddha, Japan 1185 1333, wood. National Museums Liverpool. Reproduced with kind permission.

The subject of this investigation was a 70cm-high wooden sculpture probably made in Japan during the Kamakura period (1185 1333). Painted floral decoration visible today was applied during the later Edo period (1600 1868). There are also other changes in the original appearance and some features are missing. There are abrasions and other marks which indicate that the Buddha originally wore a topknot hairpiece, metal crown, a forehead jewel and necklace; these lost pieces were digitally reconstructed.

Fig. 2. Digital reconstruction of Buddha's hairpiece, metal crown and necklace. National Museums Liverpool. Reproduced with kind permission.

Physical reconstruction of the missing parts would alter the sculpture considerably. However, by using 3D recording it was possible to create a virtual computer model of the Buddha and replace the missing elements. The model was obtained by laser scanning the statue and working on the digital model with SensAble's Phantom arm (haptics device developed by SensAble Technologies) and Freeform software.

Fig. 3. Sculpture with 18th-century painted decoration; 3D digital model with 18th-century deecoration removed; missing 12th-century elements restored. National Museums Liverpool. Reproduced with kind permission.

Project dates: 2002

Resource status: A scaled-down computer model of the 'restored' Buddha is intended for display in the gallery alongside the actual object.

Contributors: Conservation Technologies, National Museums Liverpool.

Sources and further details:

Virtual reconstruction of a 13th century Japanese Buddha, National Conservation Centre, National Museums Liverpool website.

Fowles, P.S., Larson, J.H., Dean, C. et al. (2003), 'The laser recording and virtual restoration of a wooden sculpture of Buddha', Journal of Cultural Heritage, 4, pp. 367-371.

Record compiled by Anna Bentkowska-Kafel from material supplied by Martin Cooper. 21 November 2006. Last updated: 21 May 2007.

3DVisA gratefully acknowledges the help of Dr Martin Cooper with preparation of this record.

National Museums Liverpool: Conservation Technologies and World Museum Liverpool, and 3DVisA, 2007.

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