Japanese Wartime Silk Flag

PROJECT DATE : 2008-2021
project
Japanese Wartime Silk Flag
client
Private Client
services
Textiles Conservation

Overview

On 23rd September 1945 the Japanese 20th Division surrendered a Japanese flag to the Australian army in Papua New Guinea.

A letter accompanying the flag acknowledged the kind treatment that the Australian army had shown to the Japanese soldiers. The letter is dated 10 days after the official Japanese surrender at Cape Wom on 13 September 1945, possibly reflecting the many dispersed Japanese battalions throughout PNG.

Nearly 70,000 Japanese servicemen and 20,000 civilians surrendered to the Australian forces, remaining interned on the island before repatriation over the next two years.

The Japanese flag appears to be a gift from a primary school in Japan to a Japanese soldier, wishing him speedy success and victory in the War.  It was signed by the principal on the bottom left corner of the flag and possibly the teachers or students from the primary school, with their names scattered around the sun from the centre.

Condition

The flag was originally brought to ICS in 2008.  It had extensive creasing, corrosion, staining and yellowing, along with four holes in the centre red circle. The flag was surface cleaned and aqueous washed on a suction table to reduce discolouration. It was then flattened and rolled for storage. The flag was brought back to ICS in very good condition in 2020 to prepare for framing.

Treatment

A padded fabric-covered archival backing board was created using fabric that has been tested and approved by the British Museum for use in close contact with textiles in a museum setting. The flag was then mounted onto the backing board. The losses in the red sun were disguised by placing a sheer red fabric between the flag and the backing board. Further stain reduction was not done, as the stains form a significant part of the history of the flag.

project
Japanese Wartime Silk Flag
client
Private Client
services
Textiles Conservation
Before Treatment
After Treatment

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