Hexi painting on Xitian Fanjing, a Qing imperial Buddhist temple in Beijing, China: technology revealed by analytical approaches (an initial report)
Hexi painting (和玺彩画) was historically documented as the most sophisticated decorative art representing the highest levels of technological knowledge and skills for decorating the Chinese Qing (1644-1911 AD) imperial architecture. However, the technological complexity of Hexi painting has barely been scientifically investigated. This article presents a technical case study that aimed to promote a better understanding of (inorganic) materials used in, and the painting/decorating procedure of,
... g procedure of, Hexi painting. Microscopic examination, compositional analysis, and phase/fiber identification were applied on fragments of golden-dragon Hexi painting (金龙和玺彩画), the most prestigious form of Hexi painting, which were sampled from Xitian Fanjing (西天梵境) in Beihai Park (Beijing, China). The results suggest that neither the kinds of used (inorganic) materials nor the painting/decorating process is exclusively restricted to Hexi painting and distinguishes it from other contemporaneous decorative forms. It is the combination of material use and the painting/decorating procedure that seems to make Hexi painting special. Further studies are needed to investigate the use of organic materials in Hexi painting to expand our current understanding.