Chinese museum demands return of horse sculptures from Pennsylvania
A Chinese museum in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province has openly demanded the return of two horse relief sculptures displayed at a University of Pennsylvania museum. The sculptures were illegally sold overseas.
|The two disputed horse relief sculptures at the University of Pennsylvania Museum |
[Credit: Penn Museum]
The six memorialized horses lived during the Tang Dynasty. They were allegedly the favorites of Emperor Taizong, Li Shimin. Together with other decorations and monuments, the six pieces were supposedly placed at the gate of the emperor’s tomb.
“We believe it is most reasonable for the two horses to be returned to China from the Penn Museum … The University of Pennsylvania has long been dedicated to global cultural heritage protection. We hope that the Penn Museum can reach a consensus with China on this issue and make a greater contribution to the protection of the common cultural heritage of human beings,” the Zhaoling Museum stated.
|The horses stood at the Mausoleum for over twelve hundred years and were removed from the Mausoleum|
in two groups between 1913 and 1917 [Credit: People's Daily Online]
According to the Zhaoling Museum, professional principles dictate that a museum must obtain its exhibited items without any legal burden. It should not purchase relics that have not been reported to authorities, and should assist in the return of improperly obtained articles if permitted by law. For exhibits dating earlier than 1970, museums should be able to prove that its items were acquired through proper channels.
|The horse sculptures on display at the Forest of Stone Steles Museum
in Shaanxi. Two replicas are standing|
in for the horses in Pennsylvania [Credit: People's Daily Online]
It went on to articulate how the separated art pieces have damaged the completeness of the Zhaoling Liujun, which are best observed in their origin. The Zhaoling Museum also guaranteed that the two relief sculptures would be under good protection and would be available for viewing by both casual admirers and researchers.
The University of Pennsylvania and Penn Museum could not be reached for comment as of press time. It remains to be seen whether they will respond to the call.
AuthorL Jiang Jie | Source: People's Daily Online [January 14, 2017]