Activity Report (1997) Part 2 - IV. Preserving, Documenting or Increasing Public Access to Tangible


Department of Architecture, Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) (Cambodia)
Training Program in Architectural Recording

¥ 1,069,530
An American professor from the University of Hawaii (UH) initiated a training workshop in urban vernacular architecture documentation and preservation at the Royal University of Fine Arts (RUFA) for UH and RUFA students in summer 1996. Based on the success of that workshop, RUFA received a grant from the Asia Center in 1997 to hold a follow-up. The workshop had to be relocated to Thailand due to political turmoil in Cambodia. Therefore, the intended participants-students and recent graduates from RUFA-were unable to participate. With the last-minute cooperation of the SEAMEO Project on Architecture and Fine Arts (SPAFA), a few Thai students took part, while the UH students participated at their own expense. The training provided the students with instruction and training on architectural recording and documentation involving basic drafting skills, architectural photography and the role and use of inventories. This allowed the participants to undertake an investigation and examination of 115 examples of urban vernacular building (traditional shop houses) in Bangkok's Banglampoo district. They also participated in fieldwork in other parts of Bangkok and Ayutthaya.


China Academy of Traditional Chinese Medicine (China)
Transmission of Documentation on Chinese Traditional Medicine

¥ 2,340,000
Approximately 350 original manuscripts on Chinese traditional medicine are now housed in the National Activities in Tokyo. Many of these historically significant texts were brought from China during the Edo period (1603-1867) and can no longer be found in China itself. To support the second phase of this project, an Asia Center grant enabled the Academy's scholars, in cooperation with the Research Institute of Kitazato University, to preserve some of these documents on microfilm. In addition to the 30 manuscripts filmed last year, 50 more were filmed and described in this phase. The results of the study to date were edited for future publication and presented at the Academy's annual meeting.


Chinese Nuoxi Theatre Research Institute (China)
International Conference '98: Traditional Arts Festival in Asia

¥ 2,070,268
An international conference was convened to examined religious traditions in Asian countries, and especially the vitality, survival, and future prospect of religious arts in the modern context. Participants from Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam discussed such themes as: "The Value of Religious Arts and their Preservation," "Cultural Coexistence in Traditional Agricultural Society and Constraints on Folk Arts," "Performing Arts and Spirit and Nature Worship," and "Season, Festival and Performing Arts." The participants were also able to attend many performances of local folk arts as part of the festival held in conjunction with the conference.


Working Group for Asian Activities Development (China)
Feasibility Studies on Asian Activities Development

¥ 910,000
Despite a long history of archives and record keeping, modern Asia lags behind other regions in managing and preserving its archives. To address this issue, a working group of professional archivists based in Hong Kong used an Asia Center grant to undertake a feasibility study on the establishment of a cooperative training center and on construction of a framework for a professional development program for archivists in Asia. A workshop meeting was organized in Shanghai to which a resource person from Canada was invited. A member of the working group visited the Activities School at the University of British Columbia and the University of Calgary in Canada to explore the possibility of their collaboration in setting up a training center in Hong Kong.


Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) (India)
Study and Application of Historic Site Development Methodology: Community-centered Conservation of the Buddhist Monastery at Hemis, Ladakh

¥ 2,774,612
INTACH, which together with the Institute of Asian Cultures, Sophia University, received an Asia Center grant in 1995 to develop a model of historic site engineering methodology that involves attention to the needs of the local community near the site, undertook this case study in Ladakh to test that model. The ancient monastery at Hemis, Ladakh, one of the greatest repositories of Buddhist learning in that remote region, and other surrounding structures are under threat due to growing tourism and lack of a consistent development plan. This multi-disciplinary study looked at socio-economic patterns of habitation and the impact of tourism; vernacular architecture; management of the monastery; and the legal aspects relating to the monument. The study also recorded some of the many arts and crafts of Hemis. Results from these studies were discussed in a workshop and were later published by INTACH as a two-volume report. It is hoped that the Hemis monastery will be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and that a plan to conserve the area can serve as a model for preservation of other historic areas.


Oral Traditions Association (Asosiasi Tradisi Lisan, or ATL) (Indonesia)
Research and Documentation on Indonesian Oral Traditions: Directory, Workshop, Comparative International Research

¥ 2,385,000
ATL carried out preliminary research and documentation on indigenous oral traditions in four provinces on the island of Sumatra. For the initial stage, a research team carried out mapping of extant oral traditions together with the participation of local experts. The research covered literature, folk-tales, legends, magic, medicine, and customary law in the region; the data were processed into an inventory as the basis for more in-depth research in the future. Preliminary results were presented in an international workshop, attended by 40 local and international literature and folklore experts and observers from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Netherlands, and U.S.A., where they discussed methodologies of documentation and strategies to enhance the vitality of orally transmitted knowledge systems.


Executive Committee for Symposium on Mongol Archival Sources (Japan)
Mongol Archival Sources

¥ 480,620
With the opening up of Mongolia in the early 1990s, there has been a blossoming of interest in the field of Mongolian history, with a push for reevaluating the country's recent past. An Asia Center grant allowed four leading Mongolian scholars to visit Japan. An international symposium was held in Tokyo on the topic "Mongol Archival Sources," to discuss the preservation and utilization of archival materials, to plot new research trends, and to plan for international collaborations in the future. Scholars from National Activities of Mongolia, Academy of Sciences, Institute of History, Institute of Oriental and International Studies, and Department of Activities, Institute of History, attended the symposium, in addition to Japanese and American scholars.


Institute for Himalayan Conservation (Japan)
Mustang Ecomuseum

¥ 2,410,000
This project enhanced community participation in promoting the preservation of indigenous culture of the Mustang region in western Nepal, which has significant cultural ties with Tibet. Rapid economic development is bringing changes to the social structure and life style of the people such that the transmission of arts, culture, and traditional knowledge to the next generation is being threatened. The Institute used an Asia Center grant to publish an English-language booklet on the culture of the Mustang region, highlighting its visual arts; encouraged local community members to grow traditional medicinal herbs; and produced a video tape with the hopes of reintroducing traditional medical knowledge. The organizers are now preparing a comprehensive directory of cultural heritage in the region.


Institute of Asian Cultures, Sophia University (Japan)
A Comprehensive Survey Leading to Conservation and Preservation of Kiln Sites of the Angkor Period

¥ 2,890,000
After unearthing in 1995 an 11th-12th-century ceramic kiln site near Angkor Wat, an archaeological team from Sophia University has cooperated with the Cambodian government authority in charge of protecting the region of Angkor (APSARA) to carry out further research on the site. The team also utilized grant funds to draw up a master plan for the site's future excavation and preservation. An integral part of the project was the involvement of Cambodian experts and the training of local archaeology and art history students in archaeological research methods and cultural heritage management. In this, second year of Asia Center grant support, actual excavation at the site had to be postponed due to the tenuous political situation in Cambodia. Nevertheless, the team continued to work on the master plan, produced a brochure entitled Help Save Cambodia's Past! Help Build Cambodia's Future! Preserve Angkorian Pottery and Kiln Site in Japanese, English and Khmer-language versions, documented the ceramic kiln at Wat Poh, and produced visual records of collected artifacts to prevent illegal export.


Institute of Asian Cultures, Sophia University (Japan)
Traditional Khmer Culture in the Angkor Area, Cambodia

¥ 2,097,000
Although cultural research at the world heritage site of Angkor usually focuses on the archaeology and architecture of those extraordinary ancient monuments, little scholarly attention has been paid to the still living traditional cultural forms-tangible and intangible-that manage to persist in the face of war, destruction, and rapid social change. The team of researchers from Sophia University, joined by colleagues from the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh thus undertook preliminary research on intangible culture-shadow puppet theater, dance, and handicrafts-in the village areas near Angkor in the northern province of Siem Reap. The research survey results were then compiled together with recommendations for cultural preservation policies; one of the important ancillary results was the opportunity given young Cambodian scholars to do fieldwork on such topics.


International Research Center for Environment and Development, Ritsumeikan University (Japan)
Historic Cities in Islamic Societies

¥ 2,451,300
In cooperation with Gadjah Mada University, the organizer of the Asia Center-funded "5th International Symposium and Workshop of Asia and West Pacific Network for Urban Conservation" in 1996, Ritsumeikan University convened a related symposium in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to compare efforts to preserve and manage historic cities in the Islamic world. Experts from Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Syria, Switzerland and U.S.A. focused on how the architecture and other features of the built environment relate to the indigenous cultural and social life of the of Islamic societies living in them. They drew up a set of recommendations for community-oriented management and preservation of these historic districts for the future.


Japan-China Research Team on Ancient Culture in West Tibet (Japan)
Esoteric Buddhism in Western Tibet: Caves and Wall Paintings

¥ 2,357,000
This research collaboration between scholars of the International Research Center for Japanese Studies and Chinese counterparts surveyed the tantric Buddhist wall paintings, sutra manuscripts, Buddha statuary, and other historical artifacts discovered in caves in Western Tibet in 1992. The materials, which date from the 9th to the 16th centuries, attest to the political, economic, and religious prominence of the western Tibetan Gu-ge kingdom, that has hitherto been poorly understood by scholars, due to the region's inaccessibility. This new research, then, which will be prepared for publication, is hoped to encourage further study of the Tibetan artistic and religious heritage.


Japan Folk Crafts Museum (Japan)
Research on Chinese Popular Woodblock Prints

¥ 2,757,500
A large number of uncatalogued Chinese popular woodblock prints was discovered at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum in 1995. Despite their high artistic quality and their sociological and historical importance, prints like these and the woodblocks from which they were printed are very rare in China today since they were systematically destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. In this second phase of a two-year project, specialists on Chinese woodcuts from China, Japan and Taiwan gathered in Tokyo to conduct further research on the collection, especially focusing on the question of provenance-which prints came from the mainland and which from Taiwan? Complementary field studies were also conducted in the UK and France. The results of the research were discussed at a symposium on Chinese popular printings held in Tokyo that was attended by experts from China, Japan and Russia.


National Museum of Ethnology (Japan)
Preservation and Conservation of the Orkhon Epitaphs in Mongolia

¥ 3,599,000
The 8th-century Orkhon epitaphs, located in northern Mongolia, represent the oldest extant Turkic writings, and relate the golden age of the history of the nomadic races who were once active throughout Central Asia. This grant from the Asia Center enabled experts from Japan to restore and make a three-dimensional facsimile of one of the two large epitaphs, the Kol Tegin. This was the first attempt at restoration and conservation of the ancient stone monuments of Mongolia; an integral part of the project was the involvement of Mongolian experts and training workshops in conservation techniques and principles of cultural heritage management.


Research Group for Wooden Monuments in Asia, Department of Science and Engineering, Nihon University (Japan)
Conservation of the Mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang at Hue, Vietnam

¥ 3,178,936
This seminar concluded a three year project, which in 1995 involved a needs survey and in 1996 the dispatching of Japanese technicians and experts to provide technical assistance to the Hue Monuments Conservation Center, in Vietnam. The Center is in the process of restoring the mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang in Hue, the capital of the last dynasty of Vietnam. In 1997, a review and assessment of the ongoing restoration was made at a seminar in Hue, bringing together Vietnamese scholars, conservators, and government officials with Japanese experts. A public symposium was also held in an effort to raise public awareness in Vietnam on issues relating to conservation and preservation of the national cultural heritage. This project was co-funded with the Toyota Foundation.


Research Team on Chang River Basin Culture, Waseda University (Japan)
Old Castle Wall at Chengdu, Sichuan

¥ 2,063,000
In 1996, a research team from Waseda University discovered and excavated a probable Neolithic city near the basin of the Chang River at Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China. This year the team used a grant from the Asia Center for a series of activities carried out with Chinese archaeologists, including tracing the origin of the inhabitants, conducting an inventory of artifacts excavated from the site, and preparing for a subsequent excavation. The preliminary findings, which suggest the site could have been a prosperous settlement in the Neolithic era, could significantly help to re-evaluate the history of ancient Chinese civilization in that period.


Tokyo Restoration and Conservation Center (Japan)
Survey of Historical Documents Conservation in Vietnam

¥ 4,601,000
The present condition of manuscripts and archival documents kept in archives in Vietnam is generally quite poor, due to the lack of temperature- and humidity-controlled environments and the often old and inadequate facilities where they are housed. An Asia Center grant enabled a delegation of Japanese specialists-on paper conservation and Vietnamese studies-to fulfil an invitation from the State Activities Department of Vietnam to collaborate on a survey of materials in Vietnamese archives. The team collected information on the numbers and varieties of documents stored; assessed the level of current deterioration; looked at existing conservation and restoration facilities; conducted research on local papers including collecting samples for later analysis; and visited traditional paper-making studios. Beyond the opportunity for Japanese and Vietnamese specialists to exchange experiences on library and archives management, and on conservation and preservation issues, the survey laid the groundwork for future project strategies to help the Vietnamese in preserving their historical heritage.


Toyo Bunko (Japan)
Preservation of Dunhuang Manuscripts

¥ 2,924,000 + ¥ 4,813,000
In 1995, scholars from the Toyo Bunko, or Oriental Library, a specialist library and research institute on Asian studies in Tokyo, carried out with Asia Center support a preliminary investigation of the invaluable collection of ancient manuscripts discovered in caves near Dunhuang in northwest China that are now housed in the Institute of Oriental Studies in St. Petersburg, Russia. In the second phase of the project, several thousand manuscripts in Uighur and Tangut languages were preserved on microfilm. As the completing stage of recording the languages and documents of inland peoples of the Asian continents, manuscripts in Khotan, Tanghut, and Sanskrit languages were filmed. Copies of the films, which preserve an invaluable record of Central Asian peoples in ancient times, will also be available for consultation in Tokyo. An exceptional second grant was given to allow the Toyo Bunko to complete its project.


Institute for Cultural Research, Ministry of Information and Culture (Laos)
Lao Dialects in Lao P.D.R.

¥ 2,152,000
The purpose of this collaboration between Japanese and Laotian scholars, a three-year project begun in 1996, is to collect, study and document the dialects of the Lao language to preserve the national language, which is under increasing threat from the widespread influence of Thai and English. After completing documentation of dialects in Central Laos in 1996, this year the Japanese and Laotian research team collected data on dialects in five villages in different provinces in Northern Laos. A young Laotian scholar from the Institute was sent for computer and linguistics training in Japan to undertake the eventual computerization of the collected data.


Cultural Heritage Center of Mongolia (Mongolia)
Museum Staff Training Course

¥ 1,880,490
Experts from the Cultural Heritage Center and several Japanese museum experts trained approximately 100 Mongolian museum curators, conservators, and other staff and specialists in legal issues of conservation, technical skills of preservation, and approaches to the protection of historical buildings. This was a continuation of a project administered by the Asia Center in 1995. The projects are in response to the urgent needs of Mongolia to preserve its cultural heritage in these challenging times of transition to a new economic and political system.


National Commission for the Preservation of Traditional Manuscripts (Myanmar)
Microfilming of Myanmar Traditional Manuscripts

¥ 4,207,321
This project is attempting to transfer to microfilm the contents of the thousands of traditional palm-leaf and hand-made paper (parabaik) manuscripts that are kept in monastery and temple libraries scattered all over Myanmar (Burma). They were advised by two Thai experts from Chiang Mai University, who themselves have carried out similar microfilm preservation projects in northern Thailand. In this first year of what is conceived as a multi-year project, a mobile microfilming team of historians, librarians and archivists identified the monastic collections in the suburb areas of Yangon (Rangoon), made an inventory of the manuscripts in them, and began the work of filming. The texts contained in the manuscripts cover a wide range of traditional knowledge, including language and literature, customary law, traditional medicine, history, indigenous science and technology, and economic data. The microfilms are being stored and are available for consultation at the University of Yangon library.


ENGENDER: Centre for Environment, Gender and Development (Singapore)
Workshop on Fair Trade: Southeast Asian Craft Products in a Globalized Economy

¥ 3,828,250
The aim of this workshop, organized by a Singapore-based NGO in Vientiane, Laos, was to develop a community-centered crafts marketing network as means of providing sustainable livelihoods for local communities and to enable them to develop their role as custodians of living cultures. The workshop involved participants from seven Southeast Asian countries, as well as resource persons from Canada, India and Japan. In addition to 44 foreign participants, there were approximately 50 Laotian participants at the public forum on the last day. The participants discussed such issues as the effects of globalization, and the sustainable marketing of Asian craft products; they resolved to develop a training program, to develop showcase catalogues and to publish the papers presented at the meeting. Finally, they formally established the AHPADA Network for Sustainable Livelihoods (AHPADA=ASEAN Handicraft Promotion and Development Association).


Resource Management and Development Center, Chiang Mai University (Thailand)
Indigenous Cultural Survival in Ancient Cities of Asia: Community Participation and Cultural Resource Management as Tools for Sustainable Development

¥ 2,656,845
This comparative research project is investigating how selected "ancient cities" in Asia- Chiang Mai (Thailand), Lijiang (China) and Hue (Vietnam)-serve as foci for sustaining cultural identity in the context of rapid socioeconomic and political change. A team of scholars from RMDC collected written documents, maps and photographs in libraries in Thailand; visited Kyoto, Nara and Nagoya to study how cultural preservation management has succeeded in Japan, and to confer with cultural preservation experts and scholars of Southeast Asia there; and discussed the resultant data at a three-day workshop in Chiang Mai. The project aims to involve local community members in the three cities as partners in local cultural preservation efforts, and to use visual data-both historical and produced by local communities-as the basis to understand local history and attitudes to surviving cultural forms and to their preservation. The project team will carry out collaborative research in China and Vietnam in the next stage of the project, and to hold an international conference to discuss the final results.


Southeast Asian Mountain Peoples' Culture and Development, Research, Documentation and Information Program (SEAMP/CDRI) (Thailand)
Documentation, Archiving and Dissemination of the Non-material Culture of the Hani/Akha in the Mekong Quadrangle Area

¥ 2,798,450
The Akha (or Hani, as they are called in China) people are an ethnic minority who inhabit the mountainous areas near the Mekong River where the borders of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, and China converge. SEAMP/CDRI, an NGO based in Chiang Mai, Thailand, has been working to document the oral traditions of this group, as an effort to preserve their culture, since there is no indigenous writing system. They have begun to train a core of younger Akha in recording, transcribing, and translating Akha songs and orally transmitted texts, which deal with various aspects of their history, religion, and customs. In this first stage of what will be a multi-year effort, the project team gathered and classified several hundred audiotapes (some of which were recorded many years before) and began the work of transcription. The transcriptions are being used to compile a glossary of archaic Akha language with contemporary Akha equivalents. The project hopes to work with Akha communities in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and China to develop folklore preservation strategies and will eventually involve research in those countries. To that end, SEAMP/CDRI has begun networking with community groups and NGOs among Akha communities, and has established channels for disseminating information through newsletters and occasional reports. At the end of this project year, an international workshop on Akha culture was held in Chiang Mai to share results of ongoing activities and to make plans for the future.


Hue Institute of Arts, Hue National University (Vietnam)
Course in Nha Nhac (Court Music) at Hue National University

¥ 3,699,156
An Asia Center grant supported the third phase of this project to establish a course at Hue National University in nha nhac, the traditional court music of Vietnam. Three Japanese musicologists and one historian have been advising the Institute and providing lectures. The project has helped to establish a curriculum, to recruit instructors, and to provide student scholarships for 15 students. This year the program produced its first cohort of graduating students. The Institute used Asia Center funds to organize a three-day conference on "Learning the historical notation of Dai nhac and Tieu nhac," at which they discussed such topics as a comparison of notation systems and teaching methods for traditional court music among the Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese.

Page Top