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Buddhadharma : Fall 2013
FALL 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 23 control relate to how the artwork was originally made, what kind of natural deterioration it may develop, and how it was handled in the past; for example, was it over-cleaned and over-restored by an untrained restorer or framed with poor-quality mat board that has hastened its deterioration? The work of professional art conser- vators is based on scientific principles and carried out with respect and mini- mal intervention to the sacred art. We join together in harmony a scientific understanding of materials and their behavior with internationally accepted preservation and conservation strate- gies, as well as traditional principles of respect for sacred treasures. Often when people think of art conservation, what comes to mind are dramatic before and after images of a painting that was cleaned: “before” is dark and grimy and “after” is fresh and bright. However, the contemporary approach to art conservation is that of proactive measures to safely protect and preserve treasures before they are dam- aged or lost forever. A crucial step in preservation is the creation of a disaster-preparedness plan that includes an inventory of treasures in your home, a dharma center, or a tradi- tional monastery. I am currently devel- oping a comprehensive project for digital documentation of monastic treasures in India, China, Bhutan, and Nepal. The very existence of an inventory of cultural holdings can protect collections in times of conflict, and also discourage thieves. For example, if your dharma center is robbed and a statue stolen, then a record of it exists that may assist authorities in locating and returning it. For centuries, sacred treasures found in monasteries have been cared for by resident nuns and monks. As more and more Western practitioners find themselves caretakers of sacred art, it’s important that they learn how to keep them safe. With our gentle and informed care, the inspirational treasures now in our homes and dharma centers can sur- vive to inspire others long after we are gone.