Rare Japanese scroll could be returned to Edinburgh

The 300-year-old Japenese scroll. Picture: comp
The 300-year-old Japenese scroll. Picture: comp
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A RARE Japanese scroll discovered hidden deep within a city archive and currently undergoing restoration work abroad could return to the Capital by as early as the end of the year, it has emerged.

The 300-year-old handscroll, named Theatres of the East, depicts a street scene in Edo – modern-day Tokyo – complete with shops, theatres and the bustle of city life.

The 44ft artwork is thought to be the largest painting yet discovered from Japanese artist Furuyama Moromasa and was sent to the Netherlands to be restored to its original form after it was unearthed within Edinburgh’s Central Library’s special collections six years ago.

The valuable antique, which dates from the first half of the 18th century, was gifted to Edinburgh City Libraries in the 1940s by the daughter of Henry Dyer, a Scottish engineer who played a major part in the industrialisation of Japan.

Restoration work on the scroll began in May 2014 at the Restorient Studios in Leiden – which specialises in restoring oriental art on silk and paper – following more than £20,000-worth of funding from Japan’s Sumitomo Foundation to conserve the artwork.

Once finished, it is expected the scroll will be studied by scholars and then placed on public display at the National Museums of Scotland.

And Dr Rosina Buckland, senior curator of National Museums Scotland’s Japanese collections, said the antique could be back in Edinburgh by as early as the end of the year.

She said: “The colours are very well preserved, with no fading. The conservationists have to make sure nothing happens to those pigments as the whole thing is disassembled.”

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s culture convener, said: “We are restoring Moromasa’s beautiful painting to its former glory. The work has been painstakingly carried out by world experts and once the project is complete, this important piece of art will be a wonderful addition to Edinburgh’s existing collection.”