* China’s retrieval of lost relics needs time

China Daily: “Two bronze animal heads looted from a Chinese royal garden 149 years ago will soon be returned to China, beaming in a ray of hope despite the difficulties the country faces in bringing its treasure trove of cultural relics home.

English: Looting_of_the_Yuan_Ming_Yuan_by Angl...

English: Looting_of_the_Yuan_Ming_Yuan_by Anglo-French forces in_1860 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The family heading French luxury goods retailer Pinault said on Friday in Beijing that it will donate the rat and rabbit busts back to China for free.

The Pinault family is the majority shareholder of PPR, whose brands include Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Puma, and Pinault Group Chairman and CEO Francois-Henri Pinault has just concluded a two-day visit to China with French President Francois Hollande.

Cao Yuming, director of the administration office of the Yuanmingyuan, or Old Summer Palace, from which the two pieces were looted, said the move should encourage the return of more Chinese relics.

Cao described the planned donation as “an observation of international convention, a token of friendship and conducive to bringing more relics home.”

He also said an exhibition of the two pieces is likely to be held in the Yuanmingyuan once approved by the state cultural relics authorities.

The busts were among 12 animal head sculptures that formed the zodiacal water clock decorating the Calm Sea of Yuanmingyuan of Emperor Qianlong(1736-1795).

They were taken by Anglo-French allied forces during the Second Opium War in 1860.

But the two became the center of an international tug-of-war when they were auctioned for $39.6 million in Paris in 2009.

China has repeatedly opposed this auction. A Chinese businessman made the winning bid and then refused to pay on the grounds that the heads belong to his native country.

Five of the 12 bronze animal fountain heads in Yuanmingyuan have returned thus far, and the Pinault donation will take the number to seven. But the whereabouts of the five others remains unknown.

China, along with other countries to have lost cultural relics, is making efforts to repatriate such prized possessions, a drive which has generally received a positive response and support from the international community.

But more efforts are needed. UNESCO believes there are at least 17 million Chinese cultural relics abroad, far exceeding the number in the country’s own museums.”

via China’s retrieval of lost relics needs time |Society |chinadaily.com.cn.

See also: https://chindia-alert.org/historical-perspectives/

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