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These barley dough sculptures (called torma) were made as part of the Tibetan Bon So kha (gsol kha) ritual in Sichuan Province, China, near Songpan.
This research program includes studies of both material culture and related intangible cultural heritage (skills, knowledge, and beliefs connected with craft production and objects). Since 2006 the focus has been on craft traditions in India, Japan, and China. The current focus is on Chinese ceramics. Laboratory analysis of raw materials and ceramic products helps us to understand and reconstruct technologies. We are particularly interested in identifying technological innovation and change. Ethnographic field studies document the technical methods and cultural context of rapidly-disappearing traditional ceramic workshops.
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Ceramic thin section in plane polarized light (left) and segmented (right) for digital image analysis. This gives quantitative information on sand grains (white on left and pink on right) and pores (blue) within the clay matrix.
This research program develops, tests, and applies new methods for documenting and preserving cultural materials, with a focus on ceramics, stone, metals, and glass. The major area of concentration is new and evolving methods of image analysis. This is often combined with light microscopy, to modernize a long-standing technique for studying cultural materials. New methods of image analysis are also used to improve preservation efforts and monitoring of deterioration.