PHOTO: Tokyo team recreates original colors of Nara’s 'hidden' statue using CG

December 02, 2013

By NAOKI MATSUYAMA/ Staff Writer

NARA--The vibrant colors of an eighth-century Buddhist statue have been recreated, thanks to computer graphics technology 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, the standing statue of the armor-plated guardian deity Shukongojin, 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.

As a result of two years of research, the team used computer graphics technology to re-create the colors of the rich-colored patterns of the statue from the Tenpyo Period (729-749), based on pigments that remained on its surface. The restored colors also show peacock feathers used to encircle the "hidden" statue, which wields a "vajra" (thunderbolt) in his right hand.

The 173-centimeter-tall statue is only displayed to the public once a year 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.

By NAOKI MATSUYAMA/ Staff Writer
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The original appearance of a statue of the Buddhist deity Shukongojin is shown with the aid of computer graphics technology. (Provided by Tokyo University of the Arts)

The original appearance of a statue of the Buddhist deity Shukongojin is shown with the aid of computer graphics technology. (Provided by Tokyo University of the Arts)

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  • The original appearance of a statue of the Buddhist deity Shukongojin is shown with the aid of computer graphics technology. (Provided by Tokyo University of the Arts)
  • Todaiji temple's standing statue of Shukongojin as it appears today (Provided by Todaiji temple)

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