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Study by reproduction

Reproduction of statues has a long history, with Roman copies of Greek statues being a well-known example. In Japan, there are records dating back to the Heian period (794–1185) stating that copies were being produced of statues created during the Nara period (710–794) and today, the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the National Treasure Repair Center of the Nihon Bijutsuin (The Japan Art Institute) continue to produce copies of national art treasures. What is the true meaning of the term ‘reproduction’? Generally speaking, it means ‘to make something resembling the original’ but in the case of the works in this exhibition, they have all been created as an aid to research and therefore ‘reproduction’ is a more appropriate term than ‘imitation’ or ‘replica’. This is because they are made using the same structure and techniques as the originals, utilizing exactly the same materials wherever possible, the object being to master the original skills employed in their creation and so they can truly be said to be ‘re-produced’. Here in the Conservation and Restoration Studio, we employ the latest scientific technology, such as X-ray photography and 3D laser scanning but the actual work of creating the reproductions is carried out by hand in order to deepen our understanding of ancient statues.

東大寺執金剛神 模刻
聖林寺十一面観音菩薩 模刻

Reproduction and study of Shukongōjin [Skt. Vajrapāṇi Yakṣa] statue belonging to Tōdaiji temple​ 

2019年度​博士後期課程3年 重松優志

A masterpiece of Nara period (710–794) sculpture, this statue belongs to the Hokkedō building of Tōdaiji temple where it is only displayed to the public once a year. We are studying its structure and the techniques employed in ‘classical molding’.

2019年度修士課程2年 朱若麟

This statue was created using the mokushin kanshitsu zukuri technique, which consists of applying a type of putty, consisting of roughly-powdered wood and lacquer, to a wooden base. This technique was very popular during the Nara period (710–794) but rarely used after that. Work is currently being undertaken to create a reproduction of this work that stands over 2 meters tall.

Reproduction and study of Unchū Kuyō Bosatsu (South no. 20) [Bodhisattva on Cloud] statue belonging to Byōdōin temple

2019年度修士課程2年 中村美緒

Believed to be created by the Jōchō, the sculptor who perfected the yosegizukuri [joined-block construction] technique, this is recognized as being one of the masterpieces of Heian period (794–1185) sculpture. The ‘Bodhisattvas on Clouds’ fly around the figure of Amida Nyorai [Skt. Amitabha Tathagata] and we have attempted to recreate their beauty.

Reproduction and study of Statue of Hachiman Shin, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

2019年度修士課程2年 小林百代

During the Meiji era, many Japanese cultural assets were exported to other countries. The main statue is one of them and is said to have been originally enshrined at Kofukuji Temple. While challenging the reenactment, she also made a public production in the field.

Scale reproduction and study of Jūichimen Kannon Bosatsu [Skt. Ekadaśamukha Bodhisattva] statue belonging to Murōji temple

​株式会社静岡銀行 賛助研究


Murōji temple has been famous throughout history as the ‘Mount Kōya for women’ due to the fact that, unlike the majority of temples, it was open to women. It is home to many beautiful statues, and under its patronage, we were able to create a scale reproduction of the Jūichimen Kannon Bosatsu [Skt. Ekadaśamukha Bodhisattva] that is housed in its main hall.

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