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Anal Chem. 2009 Jul 15;81(14):5691-8. doi: 10.1021/ac900428a.

Dye analysis of Shosoin textiles using excitation-emission matrix fluorescence and ultraviolet-visible reflectance spectroscopic techniques.

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  • 1Office of the Shosoin Treasure House, Imperial Household Agency, Nara, Japan.


The dyes of 8th century textiles, treasured for more than 1250 years in the Shosoin treasure repository in Japan, were analyzed by nondestructive methods, i.e., excitation-emission matrix (EEM) fluorescence and ultraviolet-visible (UV-vis) reflectance spectrometry, in combination with natural dye references extracted from plants, which have been widely used from ancient times. In this analysis, five dyes were found in the following objects: embroidered shoes dedicated to Great Buddha of the Todaiji temple by the empress of that time, the cloth lining for a case holding a mirror belonging to the emperor of that time, two rolls of yellow and light green plain-weave silks, and a sleeveless coat used for a musical in a Buddhist ceremony in 752 A.D. EEM fluorescence spectrometry distinguished kihada yellow (Amur cork tree), kariyasu yellow (eulalia), and akane red (Japanese madder). UV-vis spectrometry also distinguished kariyasu yellow, ai blue (knotweed), akane red, and shikon purple (murasaki); the characteristic peaks of these dyes were detected by a second derivatization. The results show that although the dyes used easily degrade with age, EEM fluorescence and UV-vis reflectance spectrometry are useful for distinguishing dyes used in the Shosoin textiles, which had been stored for more than 1250 years.

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