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Museum to hold nation's largest fresco exhibition

    Chinese restorers have selected 89 original fresco paintings, some centuries old, for what will be the largest fresco exhibition to be held in China.

    The exhibition will run for three months at the Shanghai Museum starting from November 30 and will be open to the public free of charge.

    The fresco paintings dating back to the Northern Dynasties (386-581) and Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) were all recently restored by the Shanxi Museum.

    Among the paintings is China’s oldest Zodiac chart, the largest fresco painting depicting hunting, a Yuan Dynasty religious painting and the largest Taoist temple fresco.

    The original works will be on display for the public for the first time, Chen Fenxia from Shanxi Museum said yesterday. They were all either cut from temple walls or unearthed from ancient tombs in north China’s Shanxi Province.

    The largest piece selected for the show is the hunting fresco dating back more than 1,500 years. It is 13.2 meters tall and 3.5 meters wide and was unearthed from the Jiuyuangang Tomb in Xinzhou.

    The piece was a part of a 200 square meter colored mural found in the tomb, which depicts scenes of hunting animals such as tigers, bears, goats and deer during the Northern Dynasties.

    Zhang Qing, a relic restorer at Yongle Palace, a Yuan Dynasty Taoist temple in Ruicheng County, said that to restore fresco paintings they must first cut the paintings along with peeling walls piece by piece and then join them again after reinforcing each section and treating it for erosion.

    She said the paintings are like picture books, with 286 supernatural beings, each wearing different costumes and adornments.

    Restoring damaged murals is the best way to prevent them from being destroyed. After restoration they must be stored in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms, said Chen.