Old palace columns coming home

Updated: 2014-02-12 08:22

By Mei Jia (China Daily)

Knowing that Huang is an active philanthropist, especially in culture, Hoyersten, now director of the Aros Museum in Denmark, said: "We know the importance of the columns both culturally and symbolically, and are convinced that the cooperation will benefit all parties involved."

After discussion under terms of no trading and no personal collecting, they decided to have Peking University, Huang's alma mater, take possession of the columns. In return, the university will send a team of experts to help sort out the remaining Chinese relics in the museum.

Hoyersten hailed the agreement as "an academic, ethical and practical solution". Hindsbo, the museum's current director, agreed, saying, "This is a unique opportunity for Kode to have an extensive collaboration with Peking University and to raise our academic research to a much higher level than we would else have been able to".

Peking University spokesperson Jiang Langlang expressed faith in the plan and said university officials are working out the details.

"We're glad to be part of the great deed our schoolfellow brings about, to return relics to safe and professional hands," he said.

Hoyersten also believes that the collaboration opens up a new mode for cultural relics to go back to China, and "takes it to a higher level. The importance of the three parties involved cannot be underestimated".

The lost cultural treasure of China often makes headlines. In 2013, Francois-Henri Pinault, representing the Pinault family, created a sensation by returning the bronze Rat Head and Rabbit Head, also from Yuanmingyuan.

Yuanmingyuan has launched campaigns to retrieve relics scattered worldwide. According to some estimates, Yuanmingyuan alone lost more than 1.5 million relics, according to some estimates.

Song Xinchao, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, told Guangming Daily in a June interview that the Chinese government encourages the unconditional donation of lost relics from overseas as a sound way of returning them.

Song said China follows the international conventions on lost relics and reserves the legal right to retrieve them.

To Huang, the returned columns represent "dignity returned to Chinese people". Huang said he will further promote via the "National Treasures Coming Home" campaign he's to launch when the ceremony for the marble columns is held in September.

"I feel the donation makes my hard-earned money worthy, at least worthier than buying a private jet," Huang said. "Because the marble columns are educational and historic to the young people.

"They were our disgrace. And their returning indicates we're a stronger country now. I hope people are proud of them," Huang said.

Contact the writer at meijia@chinadaily.com.cn


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