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Thursday, May 31 • 4:30pm - 5:00pm
(Book and Paper) Peregrinations of an 18th-Century Armenian Prayer Scroll

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Armenian prayer scrolls are Christian talismans used to protect bearers from harm, to promote healing of illness, and to ensure good fortune. Hmayil, the Armenian name for these scrolls, means “enchantment ” in Old Armenian. Early examples were manuscripts, but printed scrolls became common with the advent of movable type. There are three printed Armenian prayer scrolls in the collections of the Library of Congress. All were printed at about the same date, in the same city. All are illustrated, but the individual palettes used for coloring the woodcuts are very different. This presentation will focus on the recent conservation treatment of a severely damaged hmayil, and will highlight the complicated and precise procedures of the treatment and housing as well as the scientific analysis of the scroll. The hmayil was printed in Constantinople in 1729; the text was printed on European paper with movable type and the illustrations added as woodcuts. It is about 3.5 inches wide, but 15 feet long. When the Library received the scroll, it was broken into fourteen fragments of varying lengths despite evidence of several efforts to restore and repair it. Stains and surface dirt disfigured the paper and obscured the hand-colored illustrations. Given the size of the object and the labor intensive treatment needed, the conservators considered treatment materials and methods to determine a treatment process that would be both efficient and sustainable. In addition, they carefully organized the project to maintain consistency in procedures while retaining flexibility to respond to new challenges that might arise. The treatment employed materials relatively new to conservation and blended Western and Eastern conservation techniques. For example, fragments were washed on layers of non-woven polyester-cellulose cloth (Tekwipe®), chosen for its strong vertical capillary action and reusability. To stabilize fragments and reconstruct the original sequence of the scroll, primary and secondary linings of two different Asian papers were applied using a combination of traditional Asian and Western lining techniques. To dry the linings, conservators used both Japanese materials and methods for tensioned drying, as well as Western papermakers’ felts. Since the strength and flexibility of the paper did not permit returning the scroll into its original format, a Western method of storage and presentation - window mats – was used, but their structure was tailored to meet the special needs of the curator and researchers. The conservators investigated the colorants used in the scroll by non-destructive analytical techniques: multi-spectral imaging and X-ray fluorescence spectrometer. The findings will be discussed in the presentation. The characterization also establishes a future direction for research by a multidisplinary team to compare different color palettes from the Library’s hmayils and the reference collection of Armenian pigments available to the Library, with the goal of contributing to the knowledge of historical Armenian artist’s materials.

Speakers
avatar for Xiaoping Cai

Xiaoping Cai

Pine Tree Foundation Fellow, The Morgan Library & Museum
Xiaoping Cai is currently the Pine Tree Foundation Rare Book Conservation fellow in the Thaw Conservation Center of the Morgan Library & Museum. Prior to the fellowship, she completed an Advanced Internship in Book Conservation at the Library of Congress in Washington D.C. During... Read More →
avatar for Emily Williams

Emily Williams

Conservator, Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts
Emily obtained her bachelor’s degree in conservation from Camberwell College of Art before receiving a  postgraduate diploma in Art History from Courtauld Institute of Art and a Master of Arts in conservation from University College London. She is currently undertaking a two-y... Read More →

Co-Authors
avatar for Sylvia Albro-[PA]

Sylvia Albro-[PA]

Senior Paper Conservator, Library of Congress
Sylvia Albro was graduated from the New York State University Graduate Program in the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works in Cooperstown New York in 1982. She completed a graduate internship in conservation of works of art on paper at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisc... Read More →
avatar for Levon Avdoyan

Levon Avdoyan

Area Specialist for Armenia and Georgia, Library of Congress
Levon Avdoyan earned his MA, MPhil and PhD in Ancient History with a Minor in Armenian History and Civilization from Columbia University. After spending a year as a fellow at Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies in Georgetown, he joined the Library of Congress in 1977, fir... Read More →
avatar for Lynn Brostoff

Lynn Brostoff

Senior Research Scientist, Library of Congress
Lynn Brostoff has a Masters in Materials Science from the University of Cincinnati, and a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Lynn has worked as a conservation scientist for over 25 years at leading institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum o... Read More →
avatar for Claire Dekle

Claire Dekle

Senior Book Conservator, Library of Congress
Claire Dekle is a Senior Book Conservator at the Library of Congress. Her experience as a conservation liaison to the Manuscript Division of the Library, as well as her treatment responsibilities, rekindled an early interest in the conservation of iron-gall ink. She was a member... Read More →

Thursday May 31, 2018 4:30pm - 5:00pm
Texas Ballroom D Marriott Marquis Houston

Attendees (101)