The repository of the wall
paintings from the monasteries of Central Asia across the Great Silk Road
at the Restoration and Storage Centre "Staraya Derevnya" (The Oriental
Department of the State Hermitage, The Section of Culture and Art of the Far East)
In 2008 a part of the collection of the wall paintings from the Buddhist
monasteries that lay in the oases of the northern part of the desert
During the Second World War some of the items were saved, but many of them were destroyed during bombardments. After the end of the military operations the fragments that survived the war were handed over to Russia as a compensation for the destroyed palaces of St. Petersburg and its suburbs. On Augus, 25th, 1945 the exhibits from the Berlin Museum of Ethnology that were saved from the ruins by Soviet soldiers, as well as items from other collections, were solemnly handed over to the Marshal of the Soviet Union Georgy Zhukov. One of the items (the border of a Buddhist icon) still has the date and the inscription of the Marshal. The exhibits were loaded into troop trains and sent to Moscow where the collection was divided between the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow and the State Hermitage. In 1962 Georgy Zhukov visited the Hermitage and viewed the collection.
The exhibits that arrived in Leningrad were stored in special conditions for a long period of time. They have neither been restored nor studied since the times of the Second World War. However, now the situation has changed. In December 2008, 27 restored fragments of the wall paintings from the Buddhist monasteries in Central Asia could be viewed at the exhibition "The Caves of a thousand Buddhas" in the Winter Palace. The Restoration and Storage Centre of the Hermitage has about 150 items; approximately the same number of items are going to be scientifically restored and moved to the Repository. They all are real works of art that promise a lot of discoveries in the course of researches. The scientists will have to decipher inscriptions, interpret the themes and specify the dates. A special interest is paid to the comparison of the fragments collected by the German researches with the items brought by Russian, English and French scientists that are stored in the museum of Russia, England, France and India, as well as with the items that have remained in Germany. It is assumed that some of them could be parts of single compositions.
In Delhi, India, there are fragments of the compositions that are stored
in the State Hermitage. The first restoration has been carried out by the German
The items found in the repositories (supervisor - N. G. Pchelin, Senior
Research Assistant of the Oriental Department of the State Hermitage)
come from the Turfan oasis, Kuchar Oasis and Kumtura. A great achievement
of the Russian and the German scientists is that they managed to rescue
the unique Buddhist paintings of the Central Asia belonging