• Kyodo

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The Cultural Affairs Agency is considering taking apart the stone chamber of the ancient Takamatsuzuka tomb in the village of Asuka, Nara Prefecture, and reassembling it elsewhere to prevent further deterioration to its wall paintings, agency sources said Saturday.

The unusual preservation method is being considered because the tomb’s current situation makes it impossible to prevent further damage and stop the spread of mold, the sources said.

Unlike with the Kitora tomb, also in Asuka, removing pieces of the Takamatsuzuka wall plaster and reinforcing them for conservation appears difficult because the plaster has numerous tiny cracks, they said.

The Takamatsuzuka tomb features colorfully painted walls, including depictions of a group of women and the ancient symbols of the White Tiger of the west, the Azure Dragon of the east, and the Red Phoenix and Black Warrior.

The tomb dates from the late seventh century to the early eighth century and lies about a kilometer from the Kitora tomb.

A task force on preserving the Takamatsuzuka mounded tomb is scheduled to meet Tuesday to come up with a consensus by next month.

According to the sources, the task force members agree it is difficult to preserve the Takamatsuzuka murals because it is impossible to prevent mold inside the stone chamber even if the temperature and humidity are controlled.

They have also determined that preventing further damage is impossible as the substance used to eliminate mold is seen as one of the causes the wall paintings are fading.

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