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Aidi Bao received an MSc in Archeological Materials Science from the joint European Erasmus Mundus Program (University of Evora, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Sapienza University of Rome, University of Pisa) in 2015, with a focus on material and technical studies of oriental lacquerware. Before that, she earned an MEng in Architecture in 2013 and a BArch in 2010 from Tsinghua University, Beijing. Since 2015, Aidi has worked as a conservation scientist and project specialist for a condition survey and assessment of National Major Historical and Cultural Sites in China. Her projects included the areas of digital measuring and mapping, field documentation, diagnostic investigation, and scientific analysis.
Aidi passed her exams in June 2020, and her proposal presentation in April 2021, and is now working on her dissertation. Her advisory committee members are Vimalin Rujivacharakul, chair, (ARTH), Susan Buck (ARTC), Catherine Matsen (ARTC), John Watson, (musical instruments, retired from Colonial Williamsburg), and Keats Webb (Smithsonian's Museum Conservation Institute).
TOPIC: The Re-invention of Guqin Craquelure: The Making and Collecting of Guqin in Late Ming China, 1500-1700
Aidi is interested in the unique aesthetic value of Guqin (a wooden musical instrument coated with lacquer-based finishes) craquelure in Chinese culture. Instead of being considered defects, the fine crackle pattern is believed to enhance the instrument's timbre and beauty. Specific crack network patterns have been noted and correspond to dating/market price by Guqin masters and connoisseurs. Many Guqin instruments have been produced that are forgeries, imitating the valued craquelure pattern. It is a complex socio-cultural phenomena, but few focused studies have been carried out on this topic. Aidi's research will attempt to clarify the interaction between Guqin craquelure patterns and material choices/manufacturing techniques, and to evaluate the reverse influences of craquelure connoisseurship on lacquer art traditions. Her dissertation will have an interdisciplinary approach including case studies, scientific analysis, and artistic interpretation in the context of material culture and preservation studies.
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Left: Detachment checking of wall paintings in Qinglong Temple, Jishan,
Shanxi Province, China. Right: Sample collecting of architectural
painting in Baolunge Chengkan Anhui Province, China.
Aidi using a portable XRF to examine the chemical elements of the materials used in the surface coating of a 19th-century Chinese guqin in the Objects Conservation lab at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.