This binding dates back to 1920, though the actual rubbing is likely dated earlier, the carvings from which they are rubbed are even older, and the texts from which these carvings are based are from the Eastern Jin Dynasty (264 – 420). The multiplicity in its construction gives its age and value the feel of an assemblage. This intangibility is at the core of Hong Kong.
While this album and its decorative paper covers were still visually stunning, only the top of the album featured most of its original decorative paper. All but two thumbprint-sized patches of decorative paper were lost on the back of the album. Inside, the textblock pages were delaminating, and separating from the boards, due to the desiccation of its original paste adhesive. Previous repairs were now pulling the textblock apart, and there were tears reaching up the center of the rubbing.
Given both the tangible and ethereal qualities of this album, I chose to stabilize this piece so it could be safely handled, and to restore its aesthetic unity without making it look new. This meant removing previous repairs that were now damaging the album, while leaving stable past repairs in place so as to not disguise this album's history. The front of the textblock was mended with a fine kozo tissue with an invisible finish, so that repairs would not hinder the legibility of the text, nor its overall appearance. A piece of heavyweight Japanese kozo paper was toned with liquid acrylic paint to match the grey base color of the decorative paper. This paper was used to cover the lower board and fill losses in the upper board. Losses were then further toned with dry pastels, to match the accumulated dirt and discolorations present in the original decorative paper. This item can now be safely used by researchers, and its recent history is readily visible in terms of its conservation treatment and documentation.