Technical Study of the Paint Layers from Buddhist Sculptures Unearthed from the Longxing Temple Site in Qingzhou, China

Yan Song, Linlin Zhou, Yunpeng Wang, Fangzhi Liu, Juwen Guo, Ruixia Wang, Austin Nevin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In 1996, more than four hundred Buddhist statues were excavated from the Hoard of Longxing Temple site in Qingzhou, Shandong Province, China. They are of great significance in the study of Buddhism history during the Northern and Southern Dynasties of China, and have attracted widespread attention since they were unearthed. In this paper, the paint layers from 14 of the Buddhist statues unearthed from the Longxing Temple site were analyzed using portable 3D microscopy, Raman spectroscopy and X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy was used to determine the materials used in their production. Several microscopic samples were analyzed in the laboratory using scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersive spectrometer, X-ray diffraction and micro-Raman spectroscopy. The combined results from the field and laboratory analyses materials used in painting layers of these statues were identified, and the technique for the production of the sculptures was studied. After the stone sculpture of Buddha was finished, a priming layer of lead white was applied over the stone body as a ground, over which pigments were applied. These include mineral pigments (cinnabar, malachite, lapis lazuli and cerussite), Chinese ink (carbon black) and gold leaf. Cinnabar was used for the outer garments, the halos and ornaments of Buddha and Bodhisattva statues; malachite, was found primarily on the Monk’s clothing; the blue pigment, lapis lazuli, was mainly used for the Buddha’s bun, halo and outer garment edges; carbon black ink was employed for drafting and sketching clothing and decorative patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2599-2622
Number of pages24
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 22 2021


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