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Looted bronze relic repatriated to China

2018/12/12 9:43:39   source:China Plus/China Daily

A bronze relic dubbed "Tiger Ying" has been returned to the National Museum of China on Tuesday, December 11. A ceremony for its return has been held on the same day in Beijing. "Tiger Ying" was looted from the Old Summer Palace in 1860.

Minister of Culture and Tourism, Luo Shugang, Director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, Liu Yuzhu, and Director of the National Museum of China, Wang Chunfa, attend a ceremony for the return of an ancient Chinese relic to the National Museum of China in Beijing, December 11, 2018. [Photo: China Plus]

Minister of Culture and Tourism, Luo Shugang, Director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, Liu Yuzhu, and Director of the National Museum of China, Wang Chunfa, attend a ceremony for the return of an ancient Chinese relic to the National Museum of China in Beijing, December 11, 2018. [Photo: China Plus]

"Tiger Ying," a bronze water vessel, dates back to the Western Zhou dynasty (1022-771 BC). A thermoluminescence test on the pottery conducted in Oxford has determined the age of the bronze vessel to be between 2,200 and 3,500 years old. It is called "Tiger Ying" because the spout and lid are both cast with models of the creature. Only six similar vessels, known as Ying, are said to exit. With "Tiger Ying's" return, all of them are now in museums.

The bronze vessel was originally collected by the Qing royal family. It was taken by British Royal Marine Captain Harry Lewis Evans, a member of the British and French expeditions which looted Beijing's Old Summer Palace in 1860. "Tiger Ying" remained with the Evans family until it was auctioned on April 11, 2018. The Chinese artifact eventually sold for £410,000.

Since March 2018, authorities in Beijing had been attempting to recover "Tiger Ying." China's National Cultural Heritage Administration used various means to try to secure the return of the bronze relic and achieved positive results. At the end of April, the overseas buyer of "Tiger Ying" expressed their willingness to donate the relic to China. In September, a donation-reception ceremony was hosted at the Chinese Embassy in the UK. On November 23, "Tiger Ying" arrived safely in Beijing.

"Chinese cultural relics lost overseas are an important part of China's cultural heritage. They are of profound historical and cultural importance to the Chinese people. Its loss and return is closely related to the ups and downs of the state and the nation," said Liu Yuzhu, Director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration at the ceremony.

The National Museum of China intends to carry out further research into "Tiger Ying," as well as hold exhibitions displaying the relic.

In recent years, China's National Cultural Heritage Administration has been able to repatriate nearly 4,000 lost Chinese relics. 

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