Conserving Vulture Peak

Liquid Chromatography

Scientist, Dr Diego Tamburini analyses the dyes used to colour the fibres of the Vulture Peak embroidery.

He uses a technique known as Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry to find out what was used to colour the embroidery threads.

The embroidery dates from China’s Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). It depicts the Buddha preaching at Vulture Peak – in Buddhist tradition a favourite retreat of the Buddha and his disciples, located in what is now north-east India.

It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943) who, while exploring the many caves at Dunhuang, discovered a walled up cave. Behind this wall was a library full of manuscripts paintings and textiles, including this astonishing embroidery.

The tapestry is part of a collection donated to the British Museum by the archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943).

You can find more information in the collection online.

organics

As conservators of organic artefacts we work on a wide variety of objects from the Museum’s archaeological, historic and contemporary collections. The types of objects we are regularly working on range therefore from basketry, bark cloths, wooden sculptures, textiles, Asian lacquered objects, paintings on canvas and wooden substrates but also human and animal remains, just to name a few.

Conserving Vulture Peak

Liquid Chromatography

Scientist, Dr Diego Tamburini analyses the dyes used to colour the fibres of the Vulture Peak embroidery.

He uses a technique known as Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry to find out what was used to colour the embroidery threads.

The embroidery dates from China’s Tang dynasty (AD 618–907). It depicts the Buddha preaching at Vulture Peak – in Buddhist tradition a favourite retreat of the Buddha and his disciples, located in what is now north-east India.

It was discovered by archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943) who, while exploring the many caves at Dunhuang, discovered a walled up cave. Behind this wall was a library full of manuscripts paintings and textiles, including this astonishing embroidery.

The tapestry is part of a collection donated to the British Museum by the archaeologist Sir Aurel Stein (1862–1943).

You can find more information in the collection online.

Science

The British Museum Research Laboratory was founded in 1920. The Laboratory’s scientists provide insights into the past through research on the collection. Using both traditional and the very latest methods and equipment they are able to answer questions that help with the interpretation and understanding of the collection. Their discoveries can tell us what objects from the Museum’s collections are made out of, how they were made, when and where they were made and what that tells us about their history.