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Relic hunters head for foreign countries to find stolen items [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2009-10-19 21:55:13 |Display all floors
China will send an expert team to trace and document relics taken from the Old Summer Palace that are now in foreign countries, a park official said Sunday.

A photographer takes a picture of the Chinese bronze rat head and rabbit head sculptures displayed at the preview of the auction of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge's art collection at the Grand Palais in Paris, France, February 21, 2009. China will send an expert team to trace and document relics taken from the Old Summer Palace that are now in foreign countries.[Xinhua]

The team of experts will visit museums, libraries and private collectors next year in the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Japan and other countries for photos, documents and archives of relics plundered from the Old Summer Palace, according to Chen Mingjie, director of the park's management office.

"We hope to build a complete database of the Old Summer Palace's lost relics so we can have a clearer view of the historical royal garden, then known as the 'Garden of Gardens' before it was looted and burned down in 1860 by invading British and French armies," said Chen.
"We don't really know how many relics have been plundered since the catalogue of treasures stored in the garden was burned during the catastrophe. But based on our rough calculations, about 1.5 million relics are housed in more than 2,000 museums in 47 countries."

Some of them are being showcased in the British Museum and the Fontainebleau Art Museum in France, Chen added.

The expert team has contacted several museums and libraries so far without encountering resistance, according to Chen.

"We have clarified that this is an attempt to document rather than to seek a return of those relics," said Chen, "even though we do hope some previously unknown relics might surface and some might be returned to our country during our tracing effort."

A camera crew from China Central Television will follow and document the team's effort to keep the domestic audience posted about their progress, but possibilities exist that video or photography might not be allowed.

"We will get as much as we can," said Chen.

Like other ancient civilizations, China saw many cultural relics taken overseas when the country was subjected to wars and occupation.

According to the Chinese Cultural Relics Association, more than 10 million Chinese cultural relics were taken from the country between 1840 and 1949, a large number of which are now stored at major public museums in Europe and the US.

China has been actively seeking the return of overseas relics during the past decade through purchases at international auctions, donations by private collectors or overseas Chinese and increasingly through diplomatic means based on international conventions.

Last February, two looted fountainheads from the Old Summer Palace were sold at auction giant Christie's for 14 million euros ($17.9 million), which roused opposition from the Chinese and international communities

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Post time 2009-10-19 22:01:25 |Display all floors
a few notes
1. This was picked up by the BBC.  I read it there and it cited the CD so I copied theirs.
2. This quotes the relic hunters that there were 1.5 million relics taken from the old summer palace.  Seems a little high to me.  The army that sacked the summer palace numbered below 50,000 meaning the average trooper carted off 30 relics each.  That is a lot when you think that they have to walk from Beijing to at least Tianjin with their loot, along with their food, tents, guns, and water.  It gets worse.  I doubt all the troops stole anything at all.  Even 10% seems a little high, but that would mean that each evil, theif trooper would have to steal 300 relics.  (aren't some of these relics large stone objects that are hard to move?)
3. Before we get on west bashing, note that Japan is one of the major destinations of these artifacts.  Japan is not in the west.

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Post time 2009-10-19 22:07:12 |Display all floors

Hm... is that nasty little question...

... of the relics in Taipei going to come into play with this 'investigation'?  If so - then the question of the number of items may be settled.

The question in play - a la the Elgin Marbles - is the question of local warlords, Japanese Occupation Forces, KMT officials, Imperial officials that 'legally' sold items to collectors and governments abroard.
China's Eccentric 'Uncle Laowai' from Chicago, IL

http://blog.chinadaily.com.cn/home.php?mod=space&uid=135031&do=blog&view=me&from=space

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Post time 2009-10-20 07:12:04 |Display all floors
Originally posted by tradervic at 2009-10-19 22:07
... of the relics in Taipei going to come into play with this 'investigation'?  If so - then the question of the number of items may be settled.

The question in play - a la the Elgin Marbles - i ...


even Puyi sold some items from the forbidden city.

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Post time 2009-10-20 13:23:24 |Display all floors
what is the definition of stolen in this case.  Just because it use to be in China and now is not does not mean it was carted off by military thieves.

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