Collection Care blog

Behind the scenes with our conservators and scientists

1 posts from March 2016

14 March 2016

Video: The removal of linen backed paper from a silk scroll cover

Our conservation team were recently tasked with the removal of linen backed paper (a previous repair) from the back of a silk scroll cover. An overview of the item can be found on the International Dunhuang Project website: IOL Khot S 46

A black and white photography of the scroll showing two birds with leaves and flowers.
Photograph (Photo 392/27(567)) showing original position of the silk cover on the verso of the scroll before its conservation in the India Office Library, when the cover was removed and reattached on a linen backing to the recto of the scroll. 


The position of the silk cover following its conservation in the India Office Library can be seen on the IDP website and in the image below.

The scroll rests on a wooden table and is partially unrolled showing the back. Some writing is visible.
Verso of the scroll showing original position of silk cover and linen backed paper attached to the scroll in the British Museum. 

The linen backed paper and silk were detached from the scroll and then the silk was removed from the linen backed paper. The rigidity of the linen backed paper and the India Office Library scroll and storage box were causing extensive damage to the painted silk.

The cover featuring the same image as in the black and white photograph, now in colour. The birds are blue, red and yellow with white heads. The leaves coming from their mouths are green with small yellow flowers on each end. Below the birds are yellow flowers.
The silk cover before conservation showing the curl caused by the previous repair. 

Areas of loss on the covered are now infilled with a white-coloured tissues. This is slightly visible in areas of loss, but on the whole blends in with the rest of the cover.
The silk cover following conservation. 

More about the scroll can be read here. The scroll and cover will be rehoused and re-photographed and the new images will be made available on the British Library International Dunhuang Project website.

Liz Rose, Textile Conservator