Chinese authorities have approved a project to restore several ancient bamboo colored mats.
Chen Jiachang, director of the Henan Provincial Center for Conservation (HPCC), said that the restoration program, agreed by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, would see the mats restored to what they looked like more than 2,300 years ago.
The mats, woven in red, black and yellow material, were discovered two years ago in a tomb in Xinyang city, central China's Henan Province. They are currently placed in a specially designed water tank in the HPCC.
"When they were unearthed, the mats were intertwined with woodware ruin and earth, and were quite vulnerable," Chen said. "We used liquid nitrogen freezing technology to lift the mats and the attached earth, before transporting them to our lab for further analysis."
The center's staff eventually managed to recover four complete mats, two of which were the largest ever unearthed from tombs of the Chu State during China's Warring States Period (475 to 221 B.C.), each measuring about 2.5 meters in length and 1.8 meters in width.
Previously, the only color-painted bamboo mat preserved completely was one found in central China's Hubei Province in 1965. It measured 51 cm in length and 24 cm in width.
"We want to find out how and when people painted the mats and how they polished the surface," Chen said.
Chen said that the mats would be dehydrated, molded and restored, and would probably be on display at the beginning of next year.