Italian relic experts will help their Chinese counterparts preserve fine wall paintings discovered at ancient tombs dated more than 1,000 years ago in northwest China, according to an agreement signed over the weekend.
The Sino-Italian cooperation will last three years and involves training, joint research, relic repair and protection, says the document signed between Rome's High Institute for Conservation and Restoration and Shaanxi History Museum in Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province.
Xi'an was the imperial seat of a dozen ancient Chinese dynasties and today holds one of the country's richest cultural relics. The focus of the latest cooperation is tomb wall paintings of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a prime age in Chinese civilization with flourishing art cultures.
Shaanxi History Museum houses 640 Tang tomb wall paintings. Among them, 108 are considered top quality, offering historians good materials to study Tang Dynasty's arts, culture, religion, and social life.
The museum's senior official Qiang Yue said he hoped the Sino-Italian cooperation would provide vital experience for Chinese researchers to protect ancient wall paintings in general.
China started to preserve Tang wall paintings as early as in 1952, but some of the art pieces were difficult to retrieve due to the backward technology then, said Yang Wenzong, a senior researcher with the museum specialized in wall painting preservation.
As the technology advanced in the past decades, the conservation made huge progress. But Yang said some tough issues remain, like the dismemberment and discoloration of certain objects, which needs closer collaboration of the world's leading preservation experts.