This week in objects conservation: In contrast to our very large Jain shrine, this week we are working on a very tiny shrine! This small 19th C shrine is carved from ivory and has many fragile parts. In this photo you can see the parts that create the backdrop for the main scene that features many small figures. Surrounding the solid panels of the backdrop is a border of many intricately carved pieces attached with very small dowels. Unfortunately, many of the dowels have broken off, causing the pieces to become permanently detached. To repair this damage, we are using cut strips of Japanese tissue paper as mini band-aids. First, the Japanese tissue paper is coated in an adhesive and allowed to dry. A heated spatula is used to re-activate the adhesive on one end of the small strip to attach it to a border piece and the other end of the strip is attached to the panel. This will be done on both the front and back surfaces to secure each piece together. The Japanese tissue is semi-translucent and matches the color of the ivory pieces, making this repair nearly invisible. We hope you’re as excited as us to see this small shrine put back together!
Shrine or Mythological Relief, 19th Century, East India/India, ivory, Museum purchase, 1889.371