Back In The Race: Repairing a Chinese Tang Dynasty Artifact

By Natalia Ivancevich, Assistant Conservator of Objects; and, Gabrielle Tieu, Senior Conservator of Objects

This Chinese Tang Dynasty Painted Pottery Figure of a Prancing Horse was damaged as a result of improper packing and packing materials during the shipping process. Upon examination, it was discovered that the breaks occurred at points on the legs where they had been previously repaired. It also became evident that there were other areas of previous poor restoration, notably around the face of the horse; these areas remained unharmed.

To begin treatment, the horse was held securely in place by a combination of foam padding and weights. This allowed for exact positioning of the legs with the help of conservation tools and gravity. They were then easily re-adhered with conservation adhesives.

Losses along the break lines were filled with a reversible material and in-painted with conservation grade pigments.

Repair of the shipping related damage was now complete.

However, the previous restoration remained unresolved. With the client’s approval, additional treatment was preformed to address and repair the distracting previous interventions.

The existing excess adhesive was mechanically removed, and losses were filled and in-painted.

A replacement ear was also created using a gypsum based material which was shaped and in-painted to emulate the existing surface.

The legs are now repaired and stable, and the troublesome previous repairs have been resolved. Finally, a fitted crate was fabricated to insure a safe shipping and proper storage.