Well, that didn’t work, now what? Stain reduction on a 10th century Iranian ceramic

Claire Cuyaubère and Ellen Chase


This article presents the treatment of an Iranian 10th century dish from the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. The dish bore disfiguring stains along most of the joins and, as a result of its appearance, had not been on view since 1982. An investigation of the stains and subsequent treatment was undertaken to reduce their visual impact. Analyses were conducted in order to identify the nature and source of the staining. Although a specific material was not identified, analyses provided clear indications that the stains were caused by earlier treatments. Various methods of stain reduction were investigated. Of the methods deemed safe for the object, none was completely effective at removing the staining, but one reduced it somewhat. Thus, the ceramic was treated in order to obtain a consistent appearance. After the sherds were joined back together and the losses and cracks were filled, several approaches to loss compensation were considered, from different levels of integration of the stained areas to covering the most disfigured ones. A dialogue with the curator and several conservators led to the decision to paint over the stained areas to allow for the display of the object and for the public and scholars to appreciate it.

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2017 | Chicago | Volume 24