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Should looted relics be put up for auction?   [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2018-3-29 10:09:34 |Display all floors
(Global Times) An extremely rare Chinese bronze vessel that was plundered from the Old Summer Palace, or Yuanmingyuan, by a British officer in 1860 during the Second Opium War (1856-60) has been scheduled for sale at the Canterbury Auction Galleries in Kent, a southeast town in the UK on April 11.

Screenshot of the Tiger Ying from the Canterbury Auction Galleries website


The bronze, known as the Tiger Ying, is an ancient wine vessel dating back to the Western Zhou Dynasty (1027-771 BC). According to the auction house, the name Tiger comes from its unique tiger decorations on its lid and spout. With only nine similar vessels known to exist, this treasure has an estimated value of 120,000 to 200,000 pounds ($170,000-284,000).

Spoils of war

The vessel was recently rediscovered by Alastair Gibson, a British art dealer, along with three other bronzes from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) as well as a photo and a letter that connect the bronzes to the sack of Yuanmingyuan by British and French forces in 1860. In the letter dated October 17, 1860, Harry Lewis Evans (1831-83), a Royal Marine Captain during the Second Opium War, explains to his mother how he took the Tiger Ying vessel from Yuanmingyuan.

"I succeeded in getting several bronzes and enamel vases as well as some very fine porcelain cups and saucers of the Emperor's imperial pattern but they are so dreadfully brittle that I quite despair ever being able to get them home in their present condition," Evans wrote.

Talking to media, Gibson stated that he never imagined that he would come across such valuable relics when a friend asked him to look at his small private collection. The dealer emphasized that the Tiger Ying was an unparalleled valuable piece since it depicts a tiger, considered to be the king of beasts in Chinese culture.

The vessel has undergone thermo-luminescence tests that show it is between 2,200 and 3,500 years old.

"Although it is said to be looted from Yuanmingyuan, we still have to confirm this," an expert on bronzes who asked to be anonymous in Beijing, told the Global Times.

"Scientific tests can only determine the age of this treasure. Based only on the pictures that we've seen online, it is difficult to say if it actually came from Yuanmingyuan," expert said, emphasizing that "if it is really was looted from Yuanmingyuan, according to the current international convention it should be returned to China."

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Post time 2018-3-29 10:10:20 |Display all floors
Call for return

As news of the auction quickly swept through Chinese social media, many netizens posted differing opinions on Sina Weibo.

"It reminds us of a humiliating period of history," posted netizen Fengshui Master Zhang Xianchen's Hong Kong Fan.

"Shame on them for selling something that was looted by their ancestors," commented Dai Ni Zuo Jianzhi.

Some netizens tried to look on the brighter side of the sale, thinking of it as a way to ensure the aging bronze is protected.

"If there will be someone who takes good care of it, then I think the sale is fine," said Lanjiajia Ershi.

This is not the first time that relics looted from China have been sold at auction.

Famous examples like the Administration Scroll, the painting series Forty Scenes of Yuanmingyuan and the heads of four Chinese zodiac statues that were stolen when the joint British and French army attacked Beijing.

According to historic documents, at least 1.5 million treasures were looted from Yuanmingyuan, with most being scattered overseas.

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Post time 2018-3-29 10:10:45 |Display all floors

The heads of three zodiac statues looted from Yuanmingyuan on display at an exhibition in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province  Photo: VCG

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The heads of three zodiac statues looted from Yuanmingyuan on display at an exhibition in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province Photo: VCG

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The heads of three zodiac statues looted from Yuanmingyuan on display at an exhibition in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province Photo: VCG

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Post time 2018-3-29 10:31:05 |Display all floors
This post was edited by markwu at 2018-3-29 10:41

I can't understand why a country which owns a relic stolen from it should have to pay ruinous sums to the country whose thieves stole it - so that it can be brought home of this something that is the historical soul of a unique culture.  Maybe the thieving country has no culture in the first place. As for that particular piece, the miscreant already memoired he took it from the place so why the ding-aling about its origin to which it must be returned? If stealing foreign relics is allowed just so thieves and the auction industry can make a killing, won't it encourage them to continue doing so? For future commercial valuation reasons? How can one assign a fixed value on something that is emblematic of the cultural soul of a people?

There, spoken in the same language as the thieves. Nation of shopkeepers? Nah!

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Post time 2018-3-29 11:18:26 |Display all floors

India has been demanding the return of Koh-i-noor, the most famous diamond, stolen by Anglos.

Prannoy Roy: The last question all the twitters have told me to ask you... the Kohinoor diamond are you going to return that ever?

COMMENTSDavid Cameron: That is a question I have been never been asked before... what tends to happen with these questions is that if you say yes to one, then you would suddenly find the British museum empty and I know there is a great argument about the original provinence of the Kohinoor diamonds, I am afraid to say it's going to stay where it's put.


In other words, Cameron is telling the world they are thieves, robbers. Those arts, treasure housed in the British museum are very potent proofs for the crimes Anglos commit in Asia nations, and other countries as well.  They own nothing belonged to themselves.


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