Conservation in Thailand

Two visiting scholars from the Faculty of Science, Silpakorn University, Thailand, will share their recent research:

  • Wiang Ta: Reconstructing the artistic and material record of a Thai Lanna tempera mural painting, Presented by Dr Nattawan Worawannotai, Faculty of Science, Silpakorn University.
  • A study of coatings for the mosaics on the Thai stupa Phra Maha Dhatu Nabhamethanidol and Nabhapolbhumisiri, Doi Inthanon National Park, Chom Thong, Chiang Mai, Presented by Dr Sutinee Girdthep (Nan), Faculty of Science, Silpakorn University.

This talk on the Wiang Ta murals will discuss the scientific investigation of the materials, techniques and Thai traditional art characteristics of late 19th century Lanna style mural paintings that once decorated the Wiang Ta Mon Temple in Phrae province, Thailand. Differing from typical Thai mural paintings on plaster walls, the Wiang Ta murals were painted in tempera on wooden panels connected in large 6.97 x 1.72 m2 and 9.24 x 1.72 m2 frames. During this period the use of imported and local traditional materials was common, with the use of natural binders and pigments applied to the ground layer. Scientific analysis with microscopy, SEM-EDS, XRF, and Raman spectroscopy identified cinnabar or dry process vermillion, synthetic ultramarine blue, emerald green, lead white, and bone or ivory black as pigments. Gold leaf was found in golden areas. The ground layer was identified as aluminium silicate clay while calcium carbonate, commonly assumed, was notably absent. The areas of emerald green were more heavily deteriorated than the areas of ultramarine blue, while the areas of cinnabar or vermillion were more stable. This is likely due to their water sensitivity in the high relative humidity environments in Thailand. A team of traditional Thai artists, architects, art historians, conservators and scientists contributed to the reconstruction of evidence and understanding of the Wiang Ta temple mural paintings.

The chemical properties and physical properties, and the cause of stains on the mosaics of Phra Maha Dhatu Nabhamethanidol and Nabhapolbhumisiri at Doi Inthanon National Park, Chiang Mai will be presented. Research questions focussed on the materials used and behavioural properties of the mosaics such as colour, morphology, elements and chemical functional groups with the identification of polyurethane. The material behaviour focussed on the class of algae, moisture content, water resistance, pH and thermal properties. A range of analytical methods were used such as Diffused Reflectance Ultraviolet-visible Spectrometer (DRS), contact angle measurement (CA), Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP),infrared spectrometer (IR), scanning electron microscope (SEM) with Energy Dispersive X-ray (EDX), Differential Scanning Calorimeters (DSC) and Thermogravimetric Analysis (TGA). This approach helped develop coatings for the murals and an effective maintenance method for Phra Maha Dhatus.

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Mar 14 2023


5:15 pm - 6:30 pm


Chisholm Theatre (305), Babel Building (139)
Chisholm Theatre (305), Babel Building (139)


Grimwade Centre for Cultural Materials Conservation