法隆寺金堂壁画の美術史的価値と写真ガラス原板

有賀 祥隆
(東北大学名誉教授、法隆寺金堂壁画保存活用委員会委員長)

(一)

 法隆寺金堂壁画は、7世紀後半から8世紀始めに制作されたとみられている。壁画は50面の多きを数え、金堂外陣の大壁4面に描かれる四方四仏と小壁8面に描き並べられる菩薩の計12面が中心となるが、残念なことに昭和24年(1949)1月26日午前7時頃出火、火災によって被害を蒙り、現在、それらは焼損壁画として、3年後に建設された収蔵庫に同じく焼損した建築部材とともに組み立てられ別置保存されている。

 法隆寺金堂壁画は、大正9年(1920)に刊行された『法隆寺壁画保存方法調査報告書』の緒言で古社寺保存会長の九鬼隆一は次のように記述している。

法隆寺金堂ノ壁画ハ現今世界ニ知ラレタル東洋各国壁画中最モ優秀ナル者タルコトハ一般ニ認メラル所(以下、略)

 このように、法隆寺金堂壁画は、焼損以前から高く評価され、価値も定まっていたものである。

 法隆寺金堂壁画は、その表現技法の特色でもある仏・菩薩の肉身を括る鉄線描や着衣の衣褶を表わす凹凸技法及び薄物(うすもの)の透視描法など西域の画法を伝える中国の描法を逸速く短時間で習得し、見事に表出し描き得たことは驚嘆に値する。

(二)

 焼損壁画が別置保存されている収蔵庫は、原則として非公開であるが、焼損壁画について先の法隆寺大野玄妙管長(令和元年10月25日遷化)は、一般の多くの人に見ていただくのを強く望んでおられた。ところで、大野管長は平成27年(2015)9月に文化庁に伺われ、焼損壁画の恒久的保存を確実なものとしつつ、これを広く一般に公開するために必要な調査を実施し、その保存と活用の基本的な在り方を検討する委員会の設置に関して協力を求められた。

 この大野管長の要望を受けて文化庁と朝日新聞社の協力のもと、3か月後の12月5日に第1回の「法隆寺金堂壁画保存活用委員会」(委員長有賀祥隆)が法隆寺で開催されることになった。保存活用委員会のメンバーは各界の専門家研究者11名(後に15名)で構成され、実際の調査活動は4つのワーキング・グループ(WG)すなわち、

一、保存環境WG
二、壁画WG(美術史班と材料調査班)
三、建築部材WG
四、アーカイブWG

が行うことになった。各ワーキング・グループ及び班に座長を置き、構成員は5名から10名が配されている。

 ことにアーカイブWGでは、壁画関連資料のデジタル化と分析、壁画(現状)の記録保存を継続する傍ら、昭和10年(1935)撮影の原寸大分割写真ガラス原板(法隆寺蔵363枚)のデジタル化を進めている。

(三)

 昭和9年(1934)、文部省に法隆寺国宝保存事業部が設置され、国の事業として「法隆寺昭和の大修理」が開始されると、金堂壁画の正確な現状記録の作成を目的として壁画の原寸大分割写真撮影が企画された。この企画、事業を京都の美術印刷会社の便利堂(中村竹四郞社長)が請け負い、夏にテスト撮影を行い、翌10年8月1日から撮影を開始し、10月15日に終了、費やした日数は70日に及んだ。

 撮影は、便利堂の写真技師佐藤浜次郎氏を主任とし他に10名が加わって行われた。佐藤氏による壁画の撮影は2度(大正8年と昭和9年)ほど行われているが、原寸大分割撮影は今回が初めてのこととなった。

 原寸大分割撮影は、大壁で縦6、横7の42カット、小壁は縦6、横4の24カットで撮影され、各面主尊を別撮りして374分割(1)となった。外陣壁画の撮影にあたっては、堂内の空間で引き(奥行)に限りがあり、また壁画を分割して等倍で撮影するところから、壁画に正対できるように壁画の前面に分割撮影用の枠を立て、枠内に特注の大型カメラが上下、左右に移動できる仕組みが考案された。また、撮影時に照明のムラを避けるためにカメラの四隅に250ワットの白熱球を4個つけ、カメラと一緒に移動させた。

 このような方法で撮影された写真ガラス原板は、平成27年(2015)に歴史資料としてその歴史的、学術的価値から重要文化財に指定された。

(四)

 写真ガラス原板は、一般の網目のあるオフセット印刷や滑らかな濃淡表現ができるコロタイプ印刷とも違い、例えば金堂壁画外陣の四方四仏のうち西方阿弥陀浄土図(第六号壁)の阿弥陀如来の渦巻に表わされた螺髪や脇侍の観音・勢至両菩薩の細かく柔らかな毛筋など印刷では再現しきれない豊かな情報が刻まれている。写真ガラス原板には数倍の拡大率に耐えうる高解像度の情報が、乳剤に含まれる銀の粒子によって記録されている。

 このように、写真ガラス原板363枚について、保存修理事業(国庫補助事業)のなかで、スキャナーを用いた高精細デジタル化の作業が便利堂を中心に進められている(令和元年度から翌年度)。今後、画像化されより多くの人に活用されることが期待される。

(ありが よしたか)

(1) 大壁の端の縦1列は、1枚の写真ガラス原板を半分ずつ使って2箇所撮影しており、さらに面相部分の別撮りも加えて全体の撮影数(分割数)は374となる。ただし上述の通り1枚で2箇所撮影しているものが含まれるため、写真ガラス原板の総枚数は363となっている。

デジタルビューアを見るGlass Photographic Plates of the Murals in the Kondō Hall of Hōryūji Temple ―Digital Viewer―

The Art Historical Significance of the
Murals in the Kondō Hall of Hōryūji Temple and the Glass Photographic Plates

Ariga Yoshitaka

Professor Emeritus, Tōhoku University

Committee Chair, Committee for the Conservation of the Kondō Murals at Hōryūji

I.

The murals in the Kondō Hall of Hōryūji Temple appear to have been produced from the latter half of the seventh century to the beginning of the eighth century. There are over fifty murals, with the Buddhas of the Four Directions spreading across the four large bays of the Kondō Hall’s outer sanctum and eight murals of bodhisattvas painted on its eight smaller bays. Tragically, on January 26, 1949 (Shōwa 24), at around 7:00 a.m., a fire broke out that caused extensive damage to the murals. Today, these damaged murals are stored along with remnants of building materials in a separate structure that was constructed three years after the fire.

Baron Kuki Ryūichi (1852–1931), who was the chairman of the Committee for the Preservation of Ancient Shrines and Temples, wrote the following about Hōryūji’s Kondō Hall murals in the Research Report on Conservation Methods of the Hōryūji Murals, which was published in 1920 (Taishō 9):

The murals in the Kondō Hall of Hōryūji are now widely regarded as the most magnificent of all the murals known today from any of the nations of East Asia...

From this passage, we know that prior to the severe damage they endured in the fire, the murals in the Kondō Hall of Hōryūji were highly valued, and their tremendous importance was recognized.

The Central Asian painting techniques transmitted to China had been quickly embraced and perfected to a degree of brilliance in Japan by the time that they were realized with such profound beauty in the Kondō Hall murals at Hōryūji. This is revealed in such characteristics as their modes of describing the vivid forms of the bodies of buddhas and bodhisattvas through restrained iron-wire line drawing (J. tessen byō; Ch. tiexianmiao) and in the techniques deployed to convey the dimensionality of the folds of the robes and the transparency of thin silk and silk gauze garments.

II.

In principle, the severely damaged murals are kept in a separate storehouse and not shown in public. Yet the former abbot of Hōryūji, the Venerable Ōno Genmyō, was eager to grant a wider audience access to them. (He passed away on October 25, 2019.) To that end, he brought the goal of making them available for public viewing to the Agency for Cultural Affairs on September 27, 2015. In addition to ensuring the permanent conservation of the damaged murals, he sought both cooperation in establishing a committee that would consider the fundamentals of their preservation and utilization and support to carry out the research and analysis that exhibiting them would require.

The requests that the Venerable Ōno Genmyō brought forward were recognized, and, three months later, benefitting from this and the cooperation of the Agency for Cultural Affairs and the Asahi Shimbun Co., the first meeting of the Committee for the Conservation of the Kondō Hall Murals at Hōryūji (Ariga Yoshitaka, Committee Chair) was called into session on December 5, 2015. The members of the Conservation Committee included eleven experts (and later fifteen) with various research backgrounds. The research project itself was carried out by four working groups focused on:

1. Storage Conditions
2. The Murals (with sections focused on art history and materials analysis)
3. Building Materials and Architecture
4. Archives

A chairperson was designated for each working group and section, and the working groups ranged in size from five to ten members each.

Particularly in the Archives Working Group, materials related to the murals were digitalized and analyzed. While continuing the work of photographing and making careful records pertaining to the murals (in their present state), this working group also proceeded with the digitization of the 363 glas photographics plates used to create the original actual-size photographs made in 1935 (Shōwa 10) in the collection at Hōryūji.

III.

In 1934 (Shōwa 9), the Ministry of Education established the Preservation Committee for the National Treasures of Hōryūji, and the “Great Shōwa-Era Restoration of Hōryūji” was initiated as a national undertaking. That year, a project to take comprehensive, full-scale photographs of the Hōryūji Kondō Hall murals was planned with the goal of compiling accurate records on their present state. According to this plan, the Tokyo-based art printing company Benridō (then under the leadership of Nakamura Takeshirō) was contracted to carry out the project. Benridō took trial photographs that summer, and the photography project began in earnest the next year, starting on August 1, 1935. The photography was completed in seventy days, on October 15.

The project was carried out with the photographer Satō Hamajirō of Benridō at the helm and ten others working alongside him. Mr. Satō had been involved in the photography of the murals two times earlier, in 1919 (Taishō 8) and 1934 (Shōwa 9). This, however, was the first time that anyone had the opportunity to photograph them comprehensively and to scale.

The full-scale composite photographs altogether comprised of 374 individual pictures. The large bays were photographed in a grid comprised of 42 individual pictures, with six vertical pictures and seven across; the smaller bays were photographed in a grid totaling 24 pictures, six vertical and four across; and the deities and figures of each mural were photographed separately.1 The photography of the murals in the outer sanctum had to be taken from within the space of the hall and therefore from a limited depth. Furthermore, each photograph needed to be the same size and taken from the same angle. A frame was set up in front of the murals in order to take each picture that would form the composite full-scale photographs from a directly frontal view. A custom-made large-scale camera was hung from the frame, with a method devised to glide the camera up and down and from side to side along the frame. So as to ensure that the lighting for each picture would be consistent, 250-watt incandescent bulbs were attached to move along with the camera, with one bulb attached to each of the camera’s four corners.

The glass photographic plates that were created through this process have come to be recognized as resources with historical and scholarly value in their own right, and in 2015 they were designated as Important Cultural Properties.

IV.

In general, glass photographic plates produce results distinct from those of halftone offset printing or from collotype printing, with its smooth gradations. One can appreciate their capacities at reproducing details that are lost in offset or collotype printing in such components as the spiral of the snail-shell curls of Amida (Skt. Amitābha) and the soft, fine hair of the attendant bodhisattvas Kannon (Skt. Avalokiteśvara) and Seishi (Skt. Mahāsthāmaprāpta) seen in Mural No. 6, a transformation scene of the Western Pure Land of Amida found among the murals of the Four Buddhas of the Four Directions in the outer sanctum of the Kondō Hall. Such details are captured in the glass photographic plates’ traces in silver nitrate emulsions. Glass photographic plates create reproductions of such high resolution that they can be blown up by several degrees without any loss of clarity through their magnification.

Thus, amidst the work of their conservation and repair (underwritten by national subsidies for the preservation and restoration of cultural properties), Benridō has focused on the 363 glass photographic plates as it proceeds with its efforts at producing high resolution digitized images using scanners. It is hoped that these images will be accessible to a wider audience, and that the digitization project will expand the scope of their use and impact.

1 To photograph the vertical column at the edge of one of the large bays, the halves of glass photographic plates were used to shoot two sections of the mural. In addition, the plates used to separately photograph the faces of various deities and figures added to the total number of plates, bringing the total to 374 total sectional photographs. Because a few of the glass photographic plates contain two shots, when one adds the photographs in terms of individual plates rather than in terms of individual shots, the glass photographic plates total 363.

デジタルビューアを見るGlass Photographic Plates of the Murals in the Kondō Hall of Hōryūji Temple ―Digital Viewer―