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Restoration of the Hanging with a Depiction of an Angry Deity among Lotuses

This hanging entered the State Hermitage in 1985 as an acquisition from Ye.N. Rumiantseva.


It came up for restoration in 2015 in a poor state. The hanging was soiled and deformed – stretched along the diagonal. There were cuts and tears in the fabric with some losses going all the way through. There were crudely executed mends and darns. The right-hand edge was turned back unevenly. There were traces of glue along the upper edge. The couched embroidery with metal threads and braid was damaged: the couching stitches had been lost in places, leaving the threads hanging loose and badly entangled. There were also some losses of threads. The design of the embroidery was disfigured. The appliqué elements were hanging loose in places. They were deformed, with fractures and losses of fabric and paper. There was no lining.

  • Close-up view before restoration. The threads of the embroidery have lost their couching stitches and become entangled. Crudely mended tears can be seen.
  • The general appearance of the hanging before restoration.
  • Close-up view before restoration. The hanging threads of the embroidery are tangled. The design of the embroidery is disfigured.
  • Close-up view before restoration. Damage to the embroidery.
  • Close-up view before restoration. There are losses of the paper on the medallions.
  • Close-up view before restoration. The medallion is deformed.
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The meeting of the restoration commission took the decision to make good the numerous losses in the embroidery using twisted yarns around the edge of the lotus leaves and the reconstruction of the design so that the hanging could be properly appreciated as a whole. To that end, silk and cotton threads were selected to match the colours of the lost braids and twisted into braids similar to those that had survived. Threads were also selected to recreate the lost outline of the lotus flower and the threads in the reflected rays of the sun.

В процессе реставрации

The tears and losses in the base fabric of the hanging were backed with a blended fabric and reinforced with restoration stitching using polyester thread. Where threads of the base fabric had been lost they were replaced with silk threads dyed to match the colour and untwisted. The cuts on the red fabric were reinforced using gossamer thread of the same shade. All the hanging and tangled threads in the embroidery were separated one by one and attached in place with silk thread of the right shade. Where there were losses, the embroidery was completed on the basis of surviving traces in the same technique using prepared braids and threads to recreate the design. Sagging threads were pulled tight, tucked in and fastened. The threads of the decorative lattices in the lower part of the hanging and the horizontal rows of threads in the upper part were given additional stitching to strengthen the pattern.

The black threads of the crude stitching attaching the medallions were cut and removed and the medallions were taken off the hanging. The threads of the latticework beneath the medallions were straightened out following the patterns and fastened in place. The losses of paper on the medallions were made good using filter paper tinted with watercolour paints and attached to filter paper using flour paste on the reverse side. Breaks and tears were reinforced in a similar manner. The deformation of the medallions was eliminated during the drying process, after they were glued on, using marble weights to apply pressure. Hanging threads of the fabric were straightened, put in place and attached using Lascaux restoration adhesive. The finished medallions were returned to their places and sewn on with synthetic thread around the edge.

The hanging was given a lining of dark olive-green blended fabric. The edge of the lining was carried over onto the face of the hanging and turned back with concealed stitching covering the paper patches and giving the hanging a finished edge. Rings were sewn onto the back along the upper edge.

The series of restoration measures carried out have returned the hanging to a condition fit for display and it has become possible to exhibit this unique item.

  • Close-up view after restoration. The threads of the embroidery have been untangled and fastened in place.
  • The general appearance of the hanging after restoration.
  • Close-up view after restoration. The hanging threads of the embroidery have been untangled and fastened in place. The design of the embroidery has been recreated.
  • Close-up view after restoration. The embroidery has been attached back in place.
  • Close-up view after restoration. The deformation has been corrected.
  • Close-up view after restoration. The losses have been reinforced and made good.
  • Close-up view after restoration.
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The restoration work was performed by Maria Tikhonova, an artist-restorer in the Laboratory for the Scientific Restoration of Fabrics and Water-Based Paintings. The photographer was Alexei Pakhomov. The curator is Anna Savelyeva (Department of the East).

The project was realized with the support of the Individual Members of the Hermitage Friends’ Club.