ArH Internship Week 4: Etiquette of Looting

DISCLAIMER: We here at AshleyWestArt do not condone looting. We are simply suggesting that if looting does take place, which, unfortunately has been and will be again and again, that the offending party simply not add “destruction of cultural artifacts” to your list of crimes. At best, you are a war criminal, at worst, you are robbing future generations of their history and heritage.

Without further ado, here’s what I helped preserved this week:


This beauty is a Burmese scroll from 1140 AD. This is a Jataka of the Life of Buddha: Theravada Canon. It is roughly 11×17 inches and made up of 210 palm leaves bound together by two chords, then, finally, wrapped up in a protective covering made of bamboo and canvas. Unfortunately, I did not open the scroll, as I was worried about causing damage to it, but the sides of the palm leaves were painted with some kind of metallic (probably gold) pigment.

And here’s the box I made for it being set up for drying

The manuscript inside is written in Pali Script, and contains one of the past lives of Buddha, or Tipitake  (The Three Baskets), which relates to the Three Ways of Asian Wisdom (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Zen).


It was looted by English soldiers from a Buddhist temple. Now, while I’m not a fan of looting, it still happened. I very much appreciate that the looters kept this scroll in the condition that it was, and that we can still learn more about Burmese culture and the Buddhist legends and philosophies.


History and Bibliography. Jataka: Life of Buddha (Theravada Canon). Burma. 1140 (Burmese Era (1778 or 1881)

This was a particularly happy day for me because I actually made the box for this weeks ago, but it finally dried and got all set up today… and the scroll fit inside perfectly!

Just look at it!

I don’t have a good picture of it (sorry, everyone, I thought I did), but if I could fix one thing, the lid’s corners are somewhat rounded. When I go back, I’m going to ask Samantha if I can apply gum adhesive to the corners to sharpen them up a bit.

Gum Adhesive 

This gum adhesive is an all-natural, acid free linen piece with natural gum which is made sticky by applying water (very much like old-timey postage stamps that you have to lick).

I found a really nice list of adhesives that are safe to use for conservation purposes. Of course, now that I’m looking at this, I can’t remember if the gum is vegetable base or not, but I’m pretty sure it is.


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