Chapter II Preserving Methods and Protection
Section I   Preservation of Calligraphy and Paintings
 
Rice paper, silk and damask silk are the material used for Chinese calligraphy and paintings, which, over time, can be aged or damaged by insects, and should therefore be kept away from light, dust, fire, humidity and insects. When contacting calligraphy and paintings, gloves should be used to avoid leaving greasy prints from hands on them. The temperature in the room that keeps them should be 10 --18 and comparative humidity should be kept at 50 -- 65 . Pesticide such as naphthalene, campher and benzene dichloride to keep insects away.
 
Section II   Keeping of Calligraphy and Paintings
 
Compare with other antiques, keeping of calligraphy and paintings is most difficult. But, two things can be done. One is to do a good job of mounting, the other is to keep them properly.
Ever since Tang, Chinese people has been particular about mounting and backing of calligraphy and painting works. People often say a fine holistic piece of art is decided 70% by the painting itself and 30% by mounting and backing. A noted historian and man of letters of Ming Tao Zongyi (in Chinese that reads Táo Zngyí 1329-1412) listed 13 different skills of mounting and backing in one of his books, these skills are still being used. Mounting is to mount the four sides of the piece of work with silk or damask silk and backing is to add more layers of paper from the back. Proper keeping mainly refers to measures against moisture and insects. Not to keep calligraphy and paintings in iron safes, where air does not circulate, because the materials used for both are orgainic, and they need to breathe.
 
Section III   Related Issues
 
1.   For a new piece of work, it should be mounted and backed right away for purpose of proper keeping;
2.   If there is no damage in the core part of an old piece of work, don’t try to peel off the top layer if it can still be hung; but if the core part is torn and damaged, the top layer should be peeled off for repair.
3.   The work should be kept properly if for some reason, the top layer of an old piece of work can not be peeled off.
4.   When using paintings or calligraphy for decoration, they should be hung properly, not on damp walls, not to be exposed to wind, smoke or dust.
Normally speaking, calligraphy and paintings should be dusted once a week in cities and once a month in rural areas.
Collectors should know that in China paintings are often several times expensive than calligraphy. And among three gendres of paintings, namely (1) mountains and waters, (2)figures and (3)flowers and birds. If the artists are of the same ranking and the sizes of works are the same, the pricing of (1) is higher than (2), and (2) is higher than (3).
 
Previous >Chapter I Basics of Collecting calligraphical work

Next >Chapter I The market for ancient calligraphers works
Back