Virtual reconstruction of a 13th century Japanese Buddha
This wooden sculpture was probably originally made during the Kamakura period (1185 – 1333). It has changed significantly since then, with elaborate floral decoration added during the later Edo period (1600 – 1868). There is also evidence of original features that are no longer present.
By examining evidence on the sculpture and looking at surviving Japanese Buddhist sculptures we can understand how the piece probably looked originally. The Buddha would have worn a topknot hairpiece and a metal crown. There would also have been a rock crystal jewel set into the Buddha’s forehead. A metal necklace that is now missing caused abrasions on the sculpture’s chest.
To reconstruct these features on the actual piece would be potentially damaging. However, Conservation Technologies used 3D recording to create a replica model with the missing elements replaced. First the original sculpture was laser scanned using non contact methods to create a virtual computer model showing how it is today. Then computer models of the crown and necklace were created and added to the virtual Buddha. This digital model was then used to make the replica model.
Have a look at how the Buddha sculpture looks now, plus digital images and a model of what it might originally have looked like, in the image gallery.