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The members of the German expedition team that conducted the major survey of the Kizil Grottoes of
which Le Coq was a part, left not only written records concerning the murals and cave architecture, but
also compiled and left us with various other kinds of written and visual materials records on a variety of other topics, including cave floorplan measurements, site photographs, records concerning the condition of the caves, and colored sketches and line drawings of the murals. Of particular note areAlbert Grünwedel’s line drawings(16), which he made by pressing a thin piece of paper directly on the paintings. These carefully
done line drawings by Grünwedel as well as Ernst Waldschmidt are of great value to us today.
The German Team, in addition to their onsite research, were to also cut out many murals from the Kizil site to bring back to Germany. The technique which they employed was to “cut round” the designated area “with a very sharp knife -- care being taken that the incision goes right through the surface-layer -- to the proper size for the packing-cases[b];” carefully cutting “the boundary line in curves or sharp angles to avoid going through faces or other important parts of the picture[b].” After this step was completed, they would then make a hole with “the pickaxe in the wall at the side of the painting to make space to use the fox-tail saw[b].
In cases where the surface layer of the cave walls were unstable, they would press boards covered with felt firmly onto the painting as they were being cut out.
As shown here, the paintings brought back to Germany(17) using this method had been cut into smaller parts. As a result, the walls in the Kizil grottoes are left scarred with countless blank areas where paintings
have been cut out, or where the team quit their work part way through the procedure after making straight cut marks.
The cut-out paintings were transported back to Germany along with sculptures(18), painted boards(19), and manuscripts; all in all making for a magnificent collection for the German team, which far outshone anything achieved by past expeditions. The result of this excavation was compiled into reports such as the seven-volume Die Buddhistische Spätantike in Mittelasien[c], contributing greatly to research on the Kizil Grottoes.
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