Urgent Issues of the Registration and Preservation of Art Heritage Objects. Conservation of the Raižiai Mosque Minbar
Acta Academiae Artium Vilnensis
Keywords:art heritage, art registration, restoration, Raižiai Mosque, Tatars, minbar, Mantas Matuiza
The preservation of art heritage in Lithuania has always been and, unfortunately, remains an acute problem. The initial stage necessary for the protection of art heritage objects (their entry into the Register of Cultural Heritage) is implemented too slowly. For almost two decades, the lists of art monuments prepared during the Soviet era have been under revision: movable art objects are distinguished from unmovable ones and their valuable properties are specified. Research institutions studying the national heritage of sacred art are identifying and giving expert assessment of a relatively large number of new objects. While the planned art object registration programs continue, the inclusion of new objects in the Register is not considered a priority; therefore, a sufficiently large number of unique valuable objects of fine art still have not been given the status needed for their basic legal protection. Art heritage objects included in the state registry system are handled according to the legal requirements for heritage protection and ensured financial support for their research, conservation and restoration, as well as protective technical measures. Due to the very slow pace of the registration process, objects not included in the Register face a substantial threat to their preservation due to inadequate maintenance and storage conditions and unregulated conservation work.
The current situation in the sector of documentation of research and conservation of art heritage is unacceptable. The valuable art objects listed in the Register must be conserved in accordance with procedures established by legal acts, which stipulate the preparation and publication of detailed reports on the conducted research and works. In reality, such reports are published very rarely, and are usually not available to the public. Furthermore, these legal requirements do not apply to the restoration of objects not yet included into Register: reporting on the performed works is not mandatory, and data on the restoration works of these valuables is not collected or systematised.
In 2019, Mantas Matuiza restored a unique object of the Tatar heritage – the minbar of the Raižiai Mosque. The wooden minbar was transferred to Raižiai from the burned Bazorai Mosque. Chemical and physical analysis of this valuable object (not listed in the Register) was conducted by Polish specialists. The minbar of the Raižiai Mosque was created by local craftsmen in 1686. It has an extraordinarily rich polychrome décor, and its roof is decorated with wood carvings. It has been used for its intended purpose throughout the centuries, and was repaired and refurbished several times due to wear and tear. During the 2019 restoration, the wooden structure of the minbar, found to be in critical condition, was reinforced, later overpaintings were removed, the colour of the original polychrome was revealed, and the lost details of the carving were restored. Since this object was not included in the Register, reporting on the conservation works was not mandatory, but the conservator, realizing the cultural and artistic value of the object and guided by his own professional ethics, carried out a detailed photo recording of the works, and also provided their description to the author of this article in the form of a structured interview.