Photo Documentation

Section 1: Before treatment                                     During treatment                                      After treatment                       

Section 6: Before treatment                                        During treatment                                                         After treatment                       

Section 11: Before treatment                                        During treatment                                                         After treatment                       

After treatment: rehousing

Treatment Record Documentation

Title:  Hmayil Armenian Scroll: Astuatusatur Konstandupolsets’l
Object: Color Woodblock print, Printed in Constantinople 1729                                
Dimensions: L: >4.6m (15’), W: 8.5cm (3.3”).                                          
Date/Period:  1729
Owner: African and Middle Eastern Division,  Library of Congress

Background Information:

The hmayils (Pahlavi humav "blessed") are talismans in the form of scrolls that protect the carrier (traveler, patient, or any other faithful in need) from various calamities. They used to be handwritten, but printed ones were also produced in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. This one was acquired five years ago by the Armenian section of African and Middle Eastern Division.  The scroll was printed in Constantinople in 1729 using Armenian movable type on European laid paper with hand colored printed woodcuts of scenes from the Armenian Bible.  It completes a set of three similar scrolls in the African and Middle Eastern Division Armenian Collections. 

DESCRIPTION

The 1729 Hmayil scroll was printed using Armenian movable type on European laid paper with hand colored printed woodcuts of scenes from the Armenian Bible. It includes iconography applicable to all Christian sects such as images of St. Mark, or St. Luke, or St. John as well as panels depicting important moments in the life of Jesus Christ. Besides, the scroll  also includes illustrations specific to the history of Armenian church.

This scroll contains the handwritten name of the respective merchant in repeated instances along the printed paper which unrolls to 15 feet when completely flat. It is currently broken into 14 fragments of varying lengths, and is accompanied by a boxful of small puzzle pieces. Two linings of coarsely woven plain cloth once held all the pieces together, but they have become very brown with age, and no longer function well as a backing. 

MATERIAL AND MEDIA

The colors represented are orange, red, green, pale brown, yellow, and light grey.  The colors have in some cases changed considerably with age.  The oranges and reds appear strong, but the grey may have been another color originally, and other colors appear faded.  Short manuscript inscriptions in black writing ink are present every so often, indicating the name of the owner of the scroll.

SUPPORT   

The scroll is printed on medium weight dark cream colored handmade laid paper, with hand-colored woodcut images interspersed in the printed text. The scroll is in fragments of varying sizes.  One watermark has been identified as a Tre Lune watermark, showing three crescent moons, which indicates a Venetian paper from the early 1700s, made for Turkish export.

CONDITION

The paper scroll is reinforced with repairs of intermittently placed pieces of heavier weight laid paper, with two layers of coarsely woven plain-cloth linings, folded around the sides of the scroll paper and adhered to the recto . Patches of brown paper were glued on throughout with a crude raw wheat paste that has darkened the paper.  Flyspecks, liquid stains, and surface dirt disfigure the images and the paper.  

There is a heavy layer of dirt on the surface of the paper.  Under the dirt, the paper also displays overall darkening and areas of strong discoloration.  Multiple tidelines are present especially along the edges.  Medium to dark brown liquid stains are present throughout the scroll paper.  Intermittent whitish crumbly accretions are accumulated on the surface of both woodcut illustrations and text.  Amorphous black stains associated with mold damage are present throughout, particularly on the fabric backings.  The fabric is very dark in color, and has probably become so with age. 

The paper is very worn and broken from the repeated rolling and unrolling it has undergone to date.  It is also quite brittle overall.  When completely unrolled the scroll is severely tented and broken up.  Paper pieces fold back upon themselves and are loose and brittle.  The paper scroll overall has many splits, tears, and losses throughout.  Across the width of the scroll there are multiple stitched seams in blue, red, or undyed thread.  There are multiple missing pieces.  Tiny unknown fragments of type and design are collected in a separate box. 

TREATMENT

  1. The surface was cleaned with small polyethylene sponges, scalpels, and soft brushes.

  2. The two fabric backings were separated from the paper.

  3. Local humidification with the steam pencil were performed to facilitate smoothing curled edges or unfolding.

  4. Before washing, the fragments were humidified between polyester web in Gore-Tex sandwiches for about 30 minutes.

  5. After humidification, the fragments were blotter washed on Tekwipe® (TW) supports with alkaline water (deionized water adjusted to pH 7.5 with calcium hydroxide (Ca(OH)2) to pH 7.5). Two sheets of TW were soaked with conditioned water on top of an acrylic sheet. A Japanese brush was used to smoothed out the bubbles in between the TW.

  6. During the washing process, each fragment was placed on polyester web and then on top of the wet TW stack for 15 minutes.  Then discoloration was blotted from the front with TW.  The wet TW stack was changed and the washing process was repeated until discoloration was no longer seen on the TW.

  7. After washing, while the paper was still moist, remaining folds and creases were checked, seams were detached, brown paper patches as well as the residual adhesive on the verso of the scroll were removed using dental tools, forceps, Teflon folder, micro-spatula, etc.

  8. The blotter-washed fragments were dried between polyester web and felts.

  9. Before lining, each fragments was humidified between polyester web in a Gore-Tex sandwich for 30 minutes. Then the fragment was sprayed with 50:50 ethanol & deionized water. Silicon release polyester film (SR) was placed on the recto of the scroll fragment, then the fragment on SR was transferred to a light box, face down. Breaks and fragments were aligned using dental tools and tweezers. 4 strips of rayon paper were positioned around the edges of the fragment.The grain direction of the scroll is parallel to the width of the scroll, i.e. across the width, rather than along the length.Rayon paper strips were cut with the grain direction running parallel to that of the scroll fragment, as shown in Fig.1.

Fig.1 Diagram shows the position of the Rayon paper strips.

10. Very thin wheat starch paste was applied to the first lining (RK1 tissue) on top of a piece of SR. The RK1 was prepared by spraying it with magnesium bicarbonate solution and allowing it to dry. When the paste-out lining was slightly dry, the SR with the lining was picked up and placed on the verso of the fragments. It was then brushed out with a brown hake brush for good bonding of lining to the fragment.

11. The SR was carefully peeled away from the verso of the lined fragment. A piece of thin polyester web was placed on top of the lining. The lined fragment was blotted with TW. Then it was turned over and then the SR was carefully peeled away from the front. A piece of thin polyester web was placed on the front of the fragment. The fragment was blotted on the recto, using TW, as before. Then the whole pack of fragment and polyester web was placed between felts to dry with an acrylic sheet on top. When they were dry, the strips of rayon paper were removed from the lining paper.

12. The lined fragments were assembled in the correct order and contiguous ones were grouped together. The original ‘sections’ were identified by looking at where the sheets overlapped. Seventeen sections were identified, and some more complete than others.

13. For the second lining, kozo paper was used. The paper was toned with Golden Fluid Acrylics using an airbrush. The toned papers were then sprayed with magnesium bicarbonate and left to air dry.

14. As before, lined fragments which belong to the same section were humidified between polyester web in a Gore-Tex sandwich for 30 minutes. After humidification, they were transferred onto a sheet of SR. Prior to the second lining was put on, the contiguous fragments lined with RK1 were joined together to form their original sections. The RK1 lining along the bottom of the first fragment was kept, whilst the excess RK1 at the top of the second fragment was trimmed. The RK1 overlap was pasted out with thin wheat starch paste, with a blotter beneath it to absorb any excess moisture. The second fragment was placed on top of the RK1 overlap and adhered into place.

15. Four strips of rayon paper were placed along the sides of the lined section, with the fragments face  up. Again, the grain direction of the rayon paper strips followed the grain direction of the fragments. A sheet of SR was placed on the recto of the jointed fragments. Then they were turned face down.

16. The alkaline toned paper was then pasted out with thin wheat starch paste, with a blotter underneath to absorb any excess moisture. When the paste-out lining was slightly dry, the paper was lifted up with a ruler. It was positioned above the joint fragments, and then it was laid down slowly at an angle. A smoothing brush was used to remove any air bubbles.

17. A piece of polyester web was placed on top of the paper lining. And the paper was pressed from the verso with a bone folder, between the areas of loss, in order to bring the lining paper to the front, and thus increase the smoothness of the surface.

18. The SR was carefully peeled off from the recto of the lined fragments. A sheet of polyester web was placed on top and smoothed in place with a brush. Then the whole pack of fragment and polyester web was placed between felts to dry with an acrylic sheet on top. Once the lined fragments had dried, the strips of rayon paper were removed from the lining paper.

19. The excess lining was trimmed around the sections.

20. The lined sections were rehoused in triple window mounts, secured to the mat board with half-moons cut from Mylar sheet.

21. A Mylar sheet was inserted inside the frame, to protect the surface of the object and prevent it from lifting when the window mount is opened.