An eighth-century Buddhist statue of the standing armor-plated guardian deity Shukongojin had its lively colors recreated. The whole process was possible thanks to the modern computer graphics technology used by a joint research team from the Tokyo University of the Arts and Tokyo University of Science.
The project of reproducing the original colors of a national treasure was conducted by the team led by Satoshi Yabuuchi, professor of studies in preservation and restoration of sculptures at TUA’s Graduate School of Fine Arts, the international press reports.
After studying the technique for two years, the scientists used computer graphics technology to re-create the colors of the rich-colored patterns of the statue from the Tenpyo Period (729-749), using pigments that remained on the statue’s surface. The restored colors have also brought to life again peacock feathers used to encircle the “hidden” 173-centimeter-tall statue, which wields a “vajra” (thunderbolt) in his right hand.
Visitors can only see the statue once a year, when it is displayed in public at Nara’s Todaiji temple. It is kept stored in a Buddhist altar called “zushi” at the temple’s Hokkedo (Sangatsudo) Hall, which is also designated a national treasure.